BY: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC



John 1:6-8, 19-28
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.” (John 1:6-8)

The New York Times article, authored by Emily Esfahani Smith, was headlined “You’ll never be famous—and that’s O.K.” Let me share an excerpt with you:

“Today’s college students desperately want to change the world, but too many think that living a meaningful life requires doing something extraordinary and attention-grabbing like becoming a celebrity, starting a wildly successful company or ending a humanitarian crisis.

“Having idealistic aspirations is, of course, part of being young. But thanks to social media, purpose and meaning have become conflated with glamour: Extraordinary lives look like the norm on the internet. Yet the idea that a meaningful life must be or appear remarkable is not only elitist but also misguided. The most meaningful lives are often not the extraordinary ones. They’re the ordinary ones lived with dignity.

“Most young adults won’t achieve the idealistic goals they’ve set for themselves. But that doesn’t mean their lives will lack significance and worth. We all have a circle of people whose lives we can touch and improve—and we can find our meaning in that.

“A new and growing body of research confirms the wisdom that meaning is found not in success and glamour but in the mundane. One research study showed that adolescents who did household chores felt a stronger sense of purpose. Why? The researchers believe it’s because they’re contributing to something bigger: their family. Another study found that cheering up a friend was an activity that created meaning in a young adult’s life. People who see their occupations as an opportunity to serve their immediate community find more meaning in their work, whether it’s an accountant helping his client or a factory worker supporting her family with a paycheck.

“You don’t have to change the world or find your one true purpose to lead a meaningful life. A good life is a life of goodness—and that’s something anyone can aspire to, no matter their dreams or circumstances.” (New York Times, September 4, 2017)

We hear today the first verses of St. John’s gospel, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.” (John 1:6-8) While these verses set the stage for the entrance of John the Baptist, they also clearly state what is to be our own Christian mission. Indeed, God created us and delivered us into this wanting, weary, dark and cold world to be divine light and warmth embodied in the human flesh of multi-arrayed personalities. We are to be as the many-colored flashes thrown off by a prism. Surely, while we are not the Original Light, we sparkle in its brilliance.

As we gather in the dark of Advent to await the birth of Jesus, the Savior, the Light of the World, many of us find ourselves caught up in the pre- Christmas whirl of buying and wrapping gifts, baking a frenzy of holiday goodies and stressing over family get-togethers. Let one woman’s testimony to the Light serve to remind us what is most important:

“My children each year ask me the same question. After thinking about it, I decided I’d give them my real answer:

“What do I want for Christmas? I want you. I want you to keep coming around; I want you to bring your kids around; I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems, ask for my opinion, ask for my help. I want you to come over and rant about your problems, rant about life. Tell me about your job, your worries, your spouse, your kids, your fur babies. I want you to continue sharing your life with me. Come over and laugh with me, or laugh at me, I don’t care. Hearing you laugh is music to me.

“I spent the better part of my life raising you the best way I knew how, and I’m not bragging, but I did a pretty darn good job. Now, give me time to sit back and admire my work; I’m pretty proud of it.

“I want you to spend your money making a better life for you and your family; I have the things I need. I want to see you happy and healthy. When you ask me what I want for Christmas, I say ‘nothing’ because you’ve already been giving me my gift all year. I want you.” (Original source unknown)

Soon, we’ll be gazing upon the Christmas crib and, perhaps, wondering what Jesus wants of us. Truly, God wants what Mom wants: “I want you. I want you to keep coming around. I want you to continue sharing your life with me.”

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