Over at Public Catholic a terrific sister in Christ, Rebecca Hamilton, posted this wonderful reflection about the Christmas Eve Mass she attended: Jesus was There.
It’s a beautiful piece, one worth reading (if you haven’t done so yet). And here’s what I noticed about that piece, and about the comments that followed it (mine included, I must say) –
The author tries to look through the fog and haze of criticism, legalism, pickiness, and the general pettiness of “good Christian people” to see the ones who came that Christmas Eve night to find the Savior, the Healer, the Companion, the Comforter, the Burden-Bearer, the Child in whom the hopes and fears of all the years are met on Christmas Eve. And she succeeds wonderfully as she looks around in the sanctuary of her congregation, and her eyes and heart drink in a crowd of folks that would doubtless have warmed Jesus’ heart and caused Him to cry out with compassion for them. But in that crowd, as in the crowds around Jesus, there were also the Pharisaic types, the ones who just can’t seem to see beyond their own insecurities and need for control.
And so what happens? As in the Gospels, so in this piece and the comments that followed we have paid more attention to the Pharisees than to the man with HIV, the prostitute, the homeless family, the dirty ones, the children, the elderly. Certainly it’s more tempting for those of us who work mostly with words to turn those words against the Pharisees, the “liturgical cops” and the “church Nazis” and engage them in long debates. And indeed the history of the church is replete with such debates, and those have often been necessary to sort things out for the rest of the believers.
But as Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees of His day, even in King David’s day the question of whether it was “right” for his soldiers to eat the showbread from the tabernacle took the backseat to whether it was compassionate for the priests to feed the people of God in their hunger.
So in this new year 2013 perhaps a good resolution is to try to engage less often in these kinds of “who is right” discussions and instead engage in “how can I be compassionate” actions. Will this draw the ire of modern-day Pharisees? Doubtless. But let us not allow them to distract us from the life of love that Jesus has called us to live.
God bless us everyone!