by Ken Rolheiser
Christmas 2020 and Covid-19

Since the limit of family members who can gather in the home is so small, and since funeral services allow up to thirty in some instances, I have decided to have a funeral for my turkey on Christmas Day.”

Much is uncertain as Christmas 2020 approaches. One article lists seven differences to notice this Christmas. Number 1: Families may have difficulty meeting. Number 2: Smaller turkeys on the table. Number 3: Work parties set for Zoom.

In England, for example, until the threat changes, you can only meet one other person outdoors. I hope that person is Santa.

Number 4: Chances of having Midnight Mass may depend on the zone level you inhabit. Number 5: Online shopping will make boxing day sales physically safer this year. Number 6: Theatres are closed, again, depending on your zone level.

Number 7: A quiet New Year’s Eve is expected. Some are happy to celebrate the end of 2020. Some will stay up until midnight to make sure it does end. And all will pray for a better prospect for 2021. Can’t wait!

New carols are springing up:
“Oh, the virus outside is frightful,
 But the wine is so delightful.
 And since we have no place to go,
 Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow!”

The human spirit is indomitable. That is no accident. We are imbued with a Divine spark that propels us ever onward and upward. Covid-19 casts a shadow on our world. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. 

With the great Christmas story there is also the terrible story of King Herod’s attempts to kill Jesus. The story of the Holy Innocents is the second most horrible story in Christianity, rivaled only by the bloody crucifixion of Christ. Yet miracles surround these events.

There is the legend of the giant juniper tree. Soldiers are pursuing the Holy Family. Frightened by Herod’s men in close pursuit, the donkey heads full gallop toward the giant juniper. 

Miraculously, the tree opens its branches like arms and enfolds them. There they hide from the pursuing soldiers. In gratitude, Mary gives the tree her blessing, and some say Joseph, to sooth the trembling beast, brushes the sweat from the frightened donkey with a juniper branch.

Another story of the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt has the Blessed Mother observing a man sowing seeds in his field. Mary instructs the farmer that if soldiers come looking for her and her family, he should tell them that he saw them pass by while he was sowing. 

Immediately after their departure, the startled farmer watches as the freshly sown seeds sprout and grow tall. When the soldiers arrive and ask the farmer if he had seen a mother and child pass by, he truthfully answers, “Yes, when I first began to sow the seed.” The soldiers, assuming the seed had been planted months earlier, go away and head in another direction.

The beginning of the greatest love story ever told is marked by cruel injustice, but also by miracles. And “the last enemy”, death, is defeated. There is nothing to fear. This year the true meaning of Christmas is needed more than ever.

“The magic of Christmas lingers on,
 Though childhood days have passed,
 Upon the common round of life
 A Holy Spell is cast.”
(Old Celtic Verse)

(557 words)