“Go and search diligently for the child…”Matthew 2:8
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. A significant part of the Christmas story. A story of light, prophesy and gifts.
As I reflect on the gospel reading this morning, I reflect on my personal Christmas experience this year. In the homily at the midnight Mass, Father read a story about a family of children performing the Christmas story. One of the little ones was playing the wise men and to amusement of the audience presented three gifts – gold, circumstance and mud.
It was a homily that peaked a very deep internal reflection.
What gifts did I bring Jesus this Christmas? What do I ever bring Jesus for his birthday?
This Christmas was a bit different for me. Being a single mom comes with many challenges, one of those is not having your little ones every Christmas. This year, due to circumstances, I decided it was best I spend Christmas at home. I thought my heart was prepared to be alone on Christmas. In fact, I probably put up this banner stating “I got this” anytime someone mentioned it. I was ready, ready to be alone and binge on Christmas movies. No big deal.
Perhaps I was fooling myself. If I’m being honest, being alone on Christmas was very difficult. The stillness came with sadness and emptiness. What I didn’t realize was how much I starved for presence. My heart was in a state of poverty in the loneliness. It longed for something more than Hallmark movies. I missed my girls, my friends and family. But there was a deeper longing.
As I placed the baby Jesus in the Nativity scenes, I looked at an inscription on a ring I wear that says “you’ll never walk alone”. Throughout the day I kept telling myself that I wasn’t alone because Christ was with me that very day of all days. He had come to the fill the emptiness, the voids in my heart.
Reflecting back on Father’s homily, I realized that I did give Jesus three gifts Christmas day. The gold I presented him was myself, my heart, empty and vulnerable, for him to pour life into. It was in the circumstance of being a single mom, alone on Christmas, I was able to bring him the gift of my complete self. It wasn’t simple, nor free of jealousy and anger. These emotions muddied the space I had to offer. Watching Hallmark movies and viewing FB posts of happy families together at Christmas celebrating enabled these emotions. The heart I thought was prepared to face loneliness wasn’t quite ready. That brokenness and loneliness was my gift to Jesus this Christmas.
Perhaps it wasn’t as glamorous as the gifts the wise men brought him but aren’t these the gifts that Jesus wants us to bring to him on his birthday – our self, in our circumstance and sin? This Christmas was a very humbling Christmas for me. It helped me to see the importance of my relationship with Christ as well as with others in my life.
Sometimes in our weakest moments, the moments we curl up in the valley, God’s presence shines the brightest, like a star that led the three wise men to a stable to find a king. Although this Christmas was hard, it taught me that sometimes it’s the stillness and emptiness that pour into us and connect us to the humble nature of our Lord and his love.
We have just embarked on a new year. A year of new opportunities, new adventures, new discoveries of what lies in our hearts and shines outward. Will you like the wise men follow the light that leads to Christ and let that light shine outward leading others to discover the birth of Christ in their own hearts?
“Go and search diligently for the child…” Matthew 2:8