In the December 26. 2013
issue of Westchester Guardian
The church bells will ring and children will be expecting presents under the tree. Christmas will be celebrated in many churches and the generous spirit of good will in this season will be felt by people everywhere, regardless of their religious affiliation. Isaiah 49.13 says "Rejoice, O heavens and exalt, O earth, for our Lord will come to show mercy to the poor." Christmas already brings out the generous, giving spirit of people everywhere. They remember and contribute money and gifts for the less fortunate not only in our country but for the poor in other places.
This year Catholics have a new Pope who has already taken a special interest in the needs of the poor. Pope Francis has written and spoken about helping the poor and vulnerable in our society. His words resonate with people of all faiths whose spirit of caring and giving is heightened by the good will the season engenders. His view is that his church is a church that is a poor church and is "for the poor." The Christmas season offers a great opportunity to promote the needs of the poor. Peace making and being merciful are all earmarks of his support of the most vulnerable members of society.
Christmas is this celebration of God who came to earth as a baby, born of a woman. With these humble beginnings, his life reflected his dedication to the practices of the ten commandments which he exemplified during his life on earth. The Christmas songs now resound, "A baby born, so meek and mild, ...one tiny child." As a baby this God made man presented himself as a son needing the support of parents in a family setting. Certainly this is a tradition as old as mankind.
Pope Francis took the name of Francis of Assisi, the saint who had been credited with creating the first Christmas Creche to exemplify Christ's birth. Reports claim Francis of Assisi in Greccio, Italy had asked the Pope if he could celebrate Christmas there. The hermitage chapel there was not large enough for the congregation, so he created an altar in an area of rock close to the center of town. A manger was built which held real animals. There are several conflicting reports of whether a newborn was placed in the manger or if a soldier saw a vision of child in the manger. In either situation there is no doubt the birth of the child Jesus has been revered for many centuries.
The true spirit of Christmas should not be confused with the commercialization of this sacred holiday. The stores are filled with all kinds of merchandise and gifts. And, in the American tradition, many groups collect toys, clothes, food baskets and other presents for those less fortunate. In the best traditions of our country this generous spirit of our residents reflects that good will that the Christmas holiday season engenders.
A helpless child has captured the hearts and souls of people for generations and this year is no exception. The season of joy, hope and generosity that Christmas engenders is reason enough for all to express joy from the heart. The glad tidings of Christmas which emanate from a baby born in a humble stable keeps hope alive in a world beset with problems.
Norman Vincent Peale reflected appropriately, "Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold everything is softer and more beautiful."