Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Searching for the Christmas Miracle and finding it

I was walking downtown yesterday afternoon as I like to do daily, often praying the Rosary or looking out for a homeless person and smiling at him or her to let them know that not everyone sees them as a threat and cancer upon society.

I came to the southeast corner of an intersection, for a four-lane road I thought was one way. Some are downtown. So I looked north and there was no traffic coming. Even though the light said "don't walk", I thought I'd save myself a few seconds in life and bolt across.

So I prepared to step off when something pulled me back and made me look south. There was a pickup truck that would have plastered me on the road.

I shook. It was NOT a one way road after all. And I almost killed myself. Then I looked across the street and looked uo. Just one block away was the Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows Catholic Church. It has been my privilege to worship there and pass it regularly saying the Rosary.

She saved me, once more. Why she sees me as worth her time is beyond my understanding. But I remain devoted to her.

Was that my Christmas Miracle? I believe so, as I believe Our Lady of Guadalupe interceded to save my life as I lay dying from leukemia more than two years ago in Vanderbilt Medical Center. The doctors could not figure out how to save me. She did.

Will your Christmas Miracle be this obvious? I don't know. For me, it is a miracle to be alive each day. I can't wait for the day to begin. I just have to learn how to wait on the traffic lights to change.

It is up to us to recognize the miracles in our lives ... be they still having a job in a bad economy, still having your health, or your children having their health, having a close relationship with a loving God, a loving spouse or a host of other things that one should never take for granted.

The miracle most of society seeks this season is one of universal goodwill and the hope that it will pass on to other months and seasons of the year. It never does. And this Christmas season, the spirit has not seemed as widespread. There is more fear in the air and more concern for self preservation.

All those things are understandable. But it is the Christmas spirit of caring for one another's fate that will get us through the next two years of economic woe. We are going to have to be our brothers and sisters' keepers. Indignities and tragedies we never believed possible are going to happen in our communities. We must be ready help pick up the pieces and commence the healing.

I have gotten a lot of response to a blog post about a local church that dedicated $100,000 to provide economic stimulus checks to its parishioners needing help with their homes mortgages, medical bills and other mounting debt. The response has mostly been that more churches should do as much.

It's time to quit building massive structures of worship and additions to existing ones to impress and serve ourselves. Christ was not born in a mega-church with big TV screens and other technological gizmos. He was born into poverty and in a manger.

It is in present-day mangers and poverty -- or the threat of it -- that we will find Christ and the miracles tied to His season. Seek them out, and happiness will be yours.

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