Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
I don’t want to sound like a Grinch. But do any of you remember the Christmas gifts you received as a child? Did any of them really make a difference in your life? Yesterday, right before my homily, I was trying to remember some of the Christmas gifts I received as a child. Will you believe me when I say to you that I could not think of any one particular gift? Then slowly, after some deep reflection, I remembered an action figure I received, a G.I. Joe.
I do not want any children to think that I am trying to convince Santa Claus not to give any Christmas gifts this Christmas! I am not trying to convince anyone of this! What I am trying to say is that we need to do better. We need to go beyond SEARS, MACY’S, NEIMAN MARCUS, TOYS-R-US and APPLE. We need to see things in the long term. This is how Christ sees things. This is how the Church sees things.
David was the greatest King Israel ever had. He united the tribes and ruled over them. He won battles and land. But eventually, he forgot his roots. He forgot who he had been. When Nathan found him, he was simply a poor shepherd boy from an insignificant family. The Lord changed all that. Mary was an insignificant young girl from an insignificant family that lived in an insignificant town. The Lord changed all that.
David lost his head. Mary never lost her innocence. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary is venerated. David is simply remembered. Mary understood that greater things would happen. David thought he was the next best thing to God! Mary was right. David was seriously wrong. God, along with the Church, will always remind us that what we do is pretty good, but things could be a lot better. Christmas gifts to family and friends are good. But we can do a lot better. Moms and dads, this Christmas, can bring some badly needed warmth, peace and love to their children and friends. Brothers and sisters can hug and kiss their siblings goodnight every night! What better Christmas gift is there than to know that you are loved and made visible; that is, significant?
I am going to make reference once again to the young actor I saw this past Thursday in the play, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” It has now been three days since I saw it and I am still dumbfounded by the significant impact this insignificant actor left in my heart and mind by his insignificant role in this little town production. I guess with age comes some sentimentalism and a little more wisdom. I can appreciate, in a way never before, a tiny role, for in that role a great humility is revealed. And what a lesson it is for all of us to learn. Regardless of the significant or insignificant role we play in our lives, it can always have an impact that goes beyond sights and facts. With God, “nothing is impossible.” Just look at the saints as evidence.
Heavenly Father, you gave us the greatest gift imaginable; you gave us your son. May we learn to imitate you - your love and sacrifice - by sharing our life with you and with others. We ask this through your son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.