Posted on Dec 19, 2020

20 December 2020

A story: There was once a monk who wanted to make a pilgrimage to Bethlehem.

He wanted to go there because he had heard of miracles occurring there.

Miracles which made new women and men of the people who came there.

All they had to do was walk three times around the birth stable of Jesus,

pray to be turned into new people, and they would return home new people.

For the rest of his life his whole focus was on his pilgrimage.

Eventually, when he was an old man, he finally had enough money to go on the pilgrimage.

He opened the gates of his monastery and staff in hand set out with great anticipation on the journey to Bethlehem.

No sooner had he left his front door then he encountered a man in rags.

“Where are you going Good Father?” asked the beggar.

“To Bethlehem.  By God’s grace I shall walk three times around the place of the birth of Our Lord and return home a new man.”

“How much money do you have Good Father?” asked the beggar.

“Thirty pounds,” the monk answered.

“Give me the thirty pounds,” said the beggar.  “I have a wife and hungry children.  Give me the thirty pounds, walk around me three times and pray to become a new man.”

The monk thought it over for a while and then chose to give the beggar the money.  He walked three times around the man, and started back to the monastery.

“Do you feel like a new man, Good Father?” asked the beggar.

“Not quite,” replied the monk, “But something is different.”

The dangerous thing for all of us is that we begin believing there is a magic in Christmas which is somewhere out there.

That we begin believing there is something out there which will make us new women and men or bring us closer to God.

Mary’s life, in the gospel today, turns out not to be what she wanted or expected, but we are told, she accepted it with grace and therein found God and happiness.

There is a warning to us on this last Sunday of Advent:

As long as we seek what is most important, most life-changing,

As long as we seek God, As long as we seek Christmas

in far away places, we will find nothing.

Christmas is the feast of the Incarnation:  God with us here.

There is no magic to Christmas beyond accepting the circumstances of our daily lives with grace.