If given a one Christmas wish this year, many would quickly reply that they wished for world peace, or an end to world hunger, or even an end to the suffering in the world. While these are definitely the most noble Christmas wishes and surely at the top of the list, my Christmas wish this year would be something a little more achievable and possibly more impactful.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Mount Angel, Oregon, features a nomadic nativity scene that travels throughout their town serving as a reminder to all that witness it what the true meaning of Christmas is. Volunteers dress up as the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, mount a live donkey and quietly spend the weeks of Advent walking around the town heading to their final destination, the Church (see the accompanying picture as they cross paths with a pedestrian.)
Can you imagine that you are immersed in your morning: stopped at a red light, news radio blaring, wresting with your coffee cup lid, planning the mental checklist of your busy day and suddenly these two with their donkey pass in the crosswalk in front of your car? Can you imagine how this visual would stop you cold and force you to pause and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas right there and then?
My Christmas wish this year would be to hire these two volunteers, and their donkey, for an Advent walk that would stop at all the major cities up and down the east coast from Boston to Miami.
Can you imagine, these two quietly walking through the college campuses of Boston, where college vices and secular intellectualism are worshiped as gods? This sight would cause these collegians to stop in their tracks and take inventory of their lives - - as this scene would portray the selflessness, purity and humility that these two unschooled participants had during that first Christmas.
What about these two stopping traffic on the “Canyon of Heroes,” slowly making their way down to Wall St. in New York City? Can you imagine the financiers and traders with their thousand dollar suites and Montblanc watches taking their thumbs off their Blackberries when they see these two pausing on their journey in their worn clothes? These two not even having a roof over their heads, not to mention a beachfront vacation home to speak of? It would force these financial brokers who worship money as their god to acknowledge how fleeting and meaningless all their wealth really is.
How about having these two proceed through the shopping mall parking lots in New Jersey? Where people literally stampede each other to death before dawn for the sole purpose of getting a large, flat screen at a discount price. These shoppers would be forced to witness these vagabonds not owning a single possession and, in doing so, would crush these people’s god of materialism.
Can you imagine the scene of these two slowly making their way down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C.? This simple, small, endearing visual would even steal the tourists away from the massive monument structures in our nation's Capitol. The hollowmen, power brokers who slither there would be forced to see in this image that their god of political, man-made power will, as Archbishop Sheen says, “…end in its own destruction.”
And finally imagine this very plain, unassuming couple making their way through the beautiful, jet set people of Miami Beach. Where everyone spends all their time and money to prevent any undesirable change to their appearance; but then go completely opposite by spending fortunes on the cutting edge of fashion with their Gucci wardrobes to constantly change their external appearances with each passing fad. This unfashionable pair would force these "pretty" masses to recognize the absolute truth of that first Christmas -- and how this bedrock revelation is not only in fashion today, but an unchanging truth that will last through eternity. Their gods of beauty and image would not survive this beautiful image.
And through these travels, I would even have these two stop and knock at random house doors along their journeys and to ask, “My Son was not welcomed anywhere in this world 2,000 years ago, is He welcomed in your home today -- or do you have too many other of these gods occupying your home?”
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas to all my readers!
May we all come to a deeper appreciation of the true meaning of Christmas!
-Voice in the Crowd