“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, which often leads to forgetting the reason for the season. There are constant reminders of the commercial aspect of Christmas, including advertisements for sales on toys, clothes, appliances, and even cars. In November and December it’s impossible to go to the grocery store, flip through magazines or watch TV without seeing multiple references to holiday meal preparation. The pressure to buy everyone on your list the perfect gift and to prepare the perfect holiday meal makes it easy to lose focus on why we as Christians celebrate Christmas: Christ.
It’s easy to lose focus on the real reason for the season, since Christmas time is a feast for the senses. Sparkling lights and festive decorations, from Christmas trees to outdoor lights, make for a dazzling sight. Christmas brings the tantalizing aroma and taste of home-made cookies, cakes and pies, along with the turkey dinner. Exchanging gifts wrapped in pretty paper adorned with ribbons and bows is a tradition for many.
While we enjoy these traditions, we must not lose sight of the reason for all of it. Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birthday. One way to rejoice in Christ’s birthday is by seeing the face of Christ in our brothers and sisters, and ensuring that they are taken care of. Christmas time is cold and harsh for those of our brothers and sisters who are homeless, can’t afford to pay the electric bill or can’t put food on the table.
See the face of Jesus in the woman who can’t cover the cost of her grocery bill and has to return some items. See the face of Jesus in the elderly man wearing a coat to bed because he can’t afford to turn the heat up in his apartment. See the face of Jesus in the child who goes to school hungry. See the face of Jesus in the homeless man huddled on a street corner.
The members of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society work tirelessly to minister to their brothers and sisters in Christ, at Christmas time and all year long. You can join them in providing meals to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, warm coats to those who are cold, and comfort to those who are suffering. Warm your heart this Christmas season by remembering that Christmas is about Christ, and take care of your fellow human beings who are all Christ’s children.
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Philadelphia has many ways, customized to each local community, for you to transform the lives of your neighbors as well as your own life. Like that of its founder, blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the vision of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “is to embrace the world in a network of charity.”