Once upon a time, in fact more recently, there was a young boy who was brought to us malnourished and sick. His name was Jean Tony,
Sadly, we see so many sick and malnourished children, that it was not his condition that made him stand out to me; rather it was because he would just sit and stare and never say hello when someone passed by him.
At the end of very long days, as I plodded to my room exhausted, he would not say a word as I went by.
Finally one night I said, “Why don’t you ever say hello?”
He said, “to who?”
I said, “to me, and to whoever goes by!”
Jean Tony said, “I didn’t see you go by. I am blind”
I learned that Jean Tony is recently blind from degeneration of his eyes because of lack of vitamins, and he has not yet learned the many other ways to “see” that people who cannot see develop over time.
So I sat down next to him, on a chair three times too small for me, and we started to chat.
I could see right away Jean Tony was a cheerful boy, curious and playful. When I asked a number of questions about his blindness so I could understand it’s onset and his chances of seeing again, he said to me:
“Why are you asking so many things about my eyes? Everything else I have works!”
I was astounded. What a beautiful focus. What a phenomenal spirit.
Our continued chats were always marked by curiosity, wonder, cheerfulness, and enthusiasm.
We soon became fast friends, he with me because I brought him a harmonica and a trumpet and other small treasures. Me with him because I wanted, and needed, the energy of his beautiful spirit
His spirit is a gift to him and a gift to me, a gift of grace.
Today, the feast of St Nicholas, is a good time to think about gifts. Christmas is rapidly approaching.
Ancient spiritual writers tell us that the full Christmas story has three parts. The first and the third are seen with the eyes. The middle part we will never see if we are spiritually blind.
The first visible part is the birth of Christ among us, as the one who saves us from the sin, ignorance, darkness, and evil that is around us and can be in us. He is Savior. He is also Redeemer. He pays the price, first for us and then with us, so that we can live as children of light.
The third part of the story, which according to the scriptures will also be visible to the human eye, will be the deliverance of all Creation to God, the last days of universal salvation,
What is the second part, which is invisible and cannot be directly seen?
The second part is us, the second part is now.
We can be governed by light, or we can be governed by darkness. It is our choice. No angelic choirs in the sky, no triumphant return upon the clouds: Just us, and our choices - if we place our lives in the hands of Emmanuel, “God with us”, God invisible.
We are the middle days of Christmas. We are the “miracle in the middle”, the time in between Incarnation and Last Fulfillment.
The trouble is that we can be quite blind to the middle days of Christmas. The physically blind Jean Tony is not. But we can be.
Just as Jean Tony was made blind by lack of nutrients, we can be made blind by so many things: by anger and hatred, by jealousy and prejudice, by greed and power-lust, by arrogance and non forgiveness. We can be swallowed up by care and concern only for ourselves, which leads to apathy.
Apathy is the biggest blinder of all. Apathy is a very simple stance: “I don’t care.”
“I don’t care” about someone else’s problems. I have my own. I don’t care about the poor unless they are the poor of my neighborhood. I don’t care to hear the silly chatter of a small blind boy.
Conversely, we can be people who see completely, and carefully.
What do you want for Christmas?
I wish for the spirit of Jean Tony. I wish the cures to hatred, pride and all the destructive blinders that keep us from being children of light. I wish wisdom, peace, love, friendship, faith, and hope. I wish for peace on earth and good will in all people.
And I wish for your deep wellbeing, health, peace, and a life fully alive to the miracle in the middle!
Thank you for your making our miracles possible, in our wide world of children, the mission of Fr. Bill Wasson and Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos!
Fr Rick Frechette CP
December 6, 2012