by Ken Rolheiser
An Advent of Joy for the light of foot

Mother Teresa told the story of a man who came to their Sister house one night to tell her that a Hindu family, a family of eight had not eaten anything for days. They had nothing to eat.

“I took enough rice for a meal and went to their house,” Mother Teresa said. “I could see the hungry faces, the children with their bulging eyes. The sight could not have been more dramatic! The mother took the rice from my hands, divided it in half and went out. When she came back a little later, I asked her: ‘Where did you go? What did you do?’
“She answered, ‘They also are hungry.’ ‘They’ were the people next door, a Muslim family with the same number of children to feed and who did not have any food either.” (from The Little Burgundy Book).

Advent invites us to share our goods with the poor. Advent also invites us to an equally rewarding activity Jesus has called us to: “Go and proclaim the good news.” (Matthew 10). We can go out to plant the seed, and we can come back rejoicing, carrying the sheaves. (Psalm 126:6).

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of one who brings good news.” (Isaiah 52:7). You can’t sing: 
“Go, tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born”
with a heavy heart or dragging steps. It demands a light heart and happy feet. A prime directive this Advent is to share the good news.

In Charlie Brown’s Christmas story Charlie asks, “Is there anyone who can tell me the meaning of Christmas?” Linus replies, “I can.” Then he recites the Gospel of Luke 2:8-21: 

“In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night. The angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people.” (Luke 2:8-14).

At the words, “Do not be afraid,” Linus drops his security blanket. A very dramatic moment not everyone notices. 

There is a true story of Mark who came home unexpectedly one Christmas. Years earlier he had given his family an ultimatum because he was so upset with his lazy and mentally challenged sister. 

“If Mercy steps foot in this house ever again, I’m out of this family for good,” he yelled at the top of his lungs. 

The family understood where he was coming from. But his father reminded him Mercy was mentally ill, but family. She needed empathy, not judgment. 

But this Christmas, Mark just appeared at their door. He went to Mercy’s room and hugged her. “You’re family, and I apologize for making you feel like you’re not,” he assured her. 

That Christmas Eve Mark sat beside his sister, and handed her a gift card to a furniture store where she could pick out the LA-Z-Boy chair she had always wanted. 

If we tell the true story of Christmas, like Linus did, some may be amazed at what they hear. We may not have the stage and audience Linus had, but simply sharing the Christmas story with others we meet will help keep Christ in Christmas.

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