FOOTSTEPS AND FINGERPRINTS
One Christmas gift that I treasure and display year-round is a cross-stitched depiction of the Christmas message contained in a simple picture frame. Many years ago my Mom, then 78 or 79, labored over this with her arthritic hands sewing her love into each tiny stitch. Its Christmas message is stitched in large, intricately designed letters in bright red threads: Christmas is a season of the heart!
I would like to share with you a story that, to me, demonstrates Mom’s Christmas message.
In a far-away mission school for orphans, after sharing the traditional Christmas story with her young students, the teacher asked them to draw and color a picture of how they imagined the birth of the Baby Jesus. Many unique and beautiful pictures were submitted to the teacher the next day. All the pictures except one were faithful to the biblical account of the birth.
Teacher called the young boy aside and asked him, “Why are there two babies in the manger in your picture? There should only be one Baby Jesus.”
The young boy looked shyly up to the teacher and said, “While I was drawing the picture last night, I talked with Jesus. I asked him if he had been lonely, with only the animals standing around in the cave. He answered, ‘No, not really, I was warm and comfortable together with my loving parents.’
“Then he asked me about my family. I told him I don’t have a mama and papa, I am all by myself here. I have some friends but they aren’t the same as having a mama and papa to love me. ‘I love you,’ Jesus told me. ‘If you come to me, I will always love you and comfort you, I will be your mama and your papa.’”
The teacher listened intently as the boy continued his story. “So that is why there are two babies in the manger. I decided to go to Jesus and be with him so I would be always loved and cared for. The second baby in the manger with Jesus is me! I want to stay with him and make him happy, just as He promised to make me happy.”
Teacher hugged the boy and, with tears in her eyes, said, “I think your picture is the best of all for now you have Jesus in your heart.”
Doesn’t this story tell us the true meaning of Christmas? That we should hold the Baby Jesus close in our hearts, and not just look at him as a small part of the Christmas belen in the church. That the celebration of His birth should not just be for one or two days, but a life-long celebration of life with Him. That our birthday wish for Jesus should be to make him happy.
How can we make Him happy? By reaching out to family, friends, and especially to those in need with compassion, concrete help, and Christian care and love. We are blessed that God gives us so many opportunities every day to make Jesus happy.
This is what that little orphan boy was saying when he joined Jesus in the manger. This is what my mom was telling me with her cross-stitch. This is the message of Pope Francis. This is what each of us needs to carry with us throughout the year. We can have the joy, the peace, and the blessings of Christmas every day of the year if we keep Christmas in our heart and share our blessings with those around us.