Merry Christmas

The students have taken their exams.  The faculty have graded them.  The semester is over and we are all ready to celebrate the holidays.  This past Monday the Drury family gathered in the Commons for a holiday luncheon.  In the entertainment which followed I got cast in the role of Charlie Brown.  At one point in this madcap play, I was asked the “WWJD” question.  What would Jesus do?

I told the gathering that answering this question is both difficulty and easy.  It is difficult because there are multiple images of Jesus in the Bible.  Each gospel has a distinctive take.  In Matthew Jesus is represented as a great teacher who shares wisdom in his Sermon on the Mount.  In that sermon, Jesus asks us to try to live perfect lives.  We are not only to love our neighbors but to love our enemies.  

In Mark, we encounter the crucified Christ and a vision of Jesus as a suffering servant asking us to take up our own crosses in sacrifice for others.  In Luke, Jesus is envisioned as the Christ who bring “good news to the poor.” And in John, we encounter a gospel which is structured by a series of miracles.

My prayer for us this Christmas is to receive a blessing from each one of these gospel visions.  May we experience this holy day as an occasion to teach ourselves again the Matthean lesson of loving everyone (not just those we like and with whom we agree.)  May we be empowered by Mark to sacrifice for one another.  May we learn from Luke’s depiction of Christ the joy of a life formed by the habits of charity and justice-seeking for the poor.  And may John help us to see a truth: when we live life grounded in love of God and love of neighbor, life itself can become miraculous. 

The easy part of the WWJD question is one word – love.  May you have it, give it, feel it, and know it this Christmas and in the year to come.  Merry Christmas to you and yours!

God bless.

Peter Browning
Chaplain

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