A lifetime buddy of mine, Bill, lost his home and everything in it this Christmas Eve, in Virginia. My heart is breaking. When we were kids, Billy had an awesome Faith. Tonight at Mass i prayed that it will RISE to the occasion for him. OF ALL DAYS may he feel close to and comforted by the HOMELESS GOD. Who else could comfort such a man, except such a God! Only One Who KNOWS could speak comfort to him.
Apparently, we really like Reality TV. We like plain, we like simple, we like blunt, vulnerable, transparent. Many of us love naked. So, i scribbled out this Reality E-Card for Christmas. It took me all of 30 seconds. IT DON’T GET ANY SIMPLER! It quotes the first modern saint i ever heard about, when i was going into third grade. The head of the United Nations was killed while on a Peace Mission in Zambia. One entry in his diary said that there is never any separating Christmas from Good Friday, the wood of the manger from the wood of the Cross.
It’s WHY Jesus came. i mean, why was the third Gift of the Magi MYRRH? What kind of man would give a baby enbalming fluid?
So, there it is. No Jingle Bells. No Santa Claus. No garland or balls or fancy golden trim. BUT NO GLOOM EITHER! This should make for the Merriest of all Merry Christmasses. He is WITH US at every party and every parting. In every pain possible.
There was one Christmas where i couldn’t make it to Church. And i was their priest, for crying out loud. Another covered for me, as i was as sick as could be. Actually the whole mess started days before Christmas, when a package arrived from Bethlehem, not Pa. but the REAL one. Someone had ordered a baby Jesus made of olive wood from the Holy Land, and it was precious, but as precious as it was busted…(just as the Lord came to be…) Then i found myself all Dec. 24 and 25 able to go no further than from my bed to the bathroom,a trip that happened dozens of times. Each time my head hit the pillow again, i looked over to see my Babe, and that diaper became more and more real. In fact, the WHOLE THING became SO REAL that year.
A few days later when i stood up before my people again, on the Feast of the Holy Family, i must’ve been like a madman in love, sharing my new, i.e. new depths of discovery, and somehow i could not hold it in, how it all hit me that mine was a mighty poor God, a fragile God, a broken, battered, and homeless God, a God who fully understood us, even to the point of temptation, and to the point of pooping his pants! There ya go, Reality TV! A God just like me! Well, as the people and i were hugging and kissing in the vestibule, one lady came out screaming. She said, “You’re not funny, you know. In fact, you’re disgusting!” She went right home and wrote a letter to the bishop, demanding my apologies or removal. i was so happy to hear from my shepherd, especially as he told me, “Great Job! Keep it up. Blow them all away with the news of our Crazy Loving God!”
Who else could ever speak a single word of comfort, or Joy?! to my buddy, Bill? Only One Who had learned in His Own Flesh and Blood that there is no way to separate Sorrow from Joy. And as the Prophet Gibran wrote, “The deeper that Sorrow carves into your being, the more Joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’ But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.” So, let us “sleep in heavenly peace,” knowing this reality of realities.
i had a great heart-to-heart with my ole buddy, Bill, and he is amazingly peaceful in his gratefulness to be ALIVE and in the giant comfy “Blanket of Love” poured out from far and wide to cover him now that he owns one tee-shirt. He couldn’t count the times he heard his loving friends say, “OF ALL DAYS for this to happen…” And we agreed that if had to happen, of all days this is THE DAY, the Day we met the Homeless God.