“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). Christmas is a season of good will toward others. As we are called to service by our Catholic values, we can look to Jesus’ example in transforming lives during the Advent season.
Amidst the modern commercialism of Christmas, it is easy to forget the true spirit of the season. Many people get caught up in the Christmas rush, worrying about completing shopping lists and dealing with the hustle and bustle of the season. Christmas is truly a time to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. During this time we are reminded that the Wise Men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Giving is what Christmas is all about.
For many, the holiday season abounds with delights for the senses. Sparkling lights, festive music, brilliant decorations, splendid gifts, and decadent foods are what many of us associate with Christmas time. In contrast, the poor and needy experience a very different Christmas season. It is important to be charitable to those less fortunate all year-long, but particularly during Christmas. At this time of year, many families feel especially constrained. When they are already struggling to afford basic necessities like food and shelter, holiday meals and gifts are not possible.
While many of us have a full refrigerator and stocked pantry, too many men, women and children know all too well the painful grumble of an empty stomach. Some families do not know where their next meal will come from. Instead of retiring each evening to a warm bed in a safe and comfortable home, many of our neighbors have no place to call home. They are left to sleep out in the freezing cold with nothing but a hard sidewalk on which to lie down. While many children awake to a glorious treasure of presents under the brightly lit Christmas tree, some children wish for just one small toy.
Despite all the suffering that is around us, transforming lives is possible. You can take action to help those in need and perhaps ease their burdens. See the face of Jesus in your neighbor. Act with compassion and love. Spread hope this Christmas by donating whatever you can to those in need.
Whether you choose to donate your time, your talents, or food, clothing, or money, do as Jesus would have, and offer whatever you can to those who need it most. If you cannot give in abundance, give in ways that you can afford. Live your faith by loving and serving others as Jesus did – giving of yourself.
You will feel most blessed when you provide emotional comfort and hope to the suffering. When transforming the life of a neighbor in need, it is possible to experience your own transformation as well. Many who have served or given to others realize how it does indeed feel better to give than to receive.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Philadelphia has many ways, customized to each local community, for you to live the true meaning of Christmas. Serving your neighbor by giving whatever you are able to can transform lives. Like that of our founder, blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the vision of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “is to embrace the world in a network of charity.” CLICK HERE to join us with a donation or by volunteering.