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What would Jesus want us to do?

Byline: FROM HEART TO HEART By the Rev. John McGrann For The Register-Guard

Celebrating Christmas dates to 325 A.D. in Rome, but the tradition did not really catch on until the 12th century. Now, in 2003, Christians of good will are involved in a struggle to get back to the true Christmas spirit and set aside at least some of the commercialism that has taken over.

We are impacted by television and other media whose purpose is to create a market for buying and more buying. Consider the time we and our children spend watching commercials about what to purchase for a "perfect" Christmas. If we just buy this or that all will be well.

We pick up the shopping spirit from our family, friends and neighbors. Besides buying, we have our long list of things to do to make the holidays "special." By Christmas, many people have overspent and are totally worn out.

Sometimes, outer riches betray inner poverty. After all the rush and the packages are unwrapped we may ask, "Is this all there is?" Empty boxes and wrappings surround us, but inside we are empty. Something is just not right!

Mother Theresa reminded Americans that the real poverty of our nation is loneliness. We know that for many the Christmas season is the loneliest time of all. It has become a holiday about things rather than about people, a holiday about doing instead of loving.

We need not make Rudolph the patron saint of the season and forget whose birthday it really is. To me, it's the birthday of God born among us! We might take some time to honestly ask ourselves, "What would Jesus want for his birthday?"

Might we celebrate Christmas with our hearts and much less with shopping and overworking? Might we slow down these few days before Christmas and ask whose birthday are we celebrating anyway? We try to give others something they really want or need on their birthday. We may ask, what does Jesus want and need from us?

Jesus insists that we find him in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and imprisoned. Yes, Christmas is for helping the needy and poor in the name of Jesus whom we honor. Sometimes the needy one is in our own family, or the next-door neighbor, or the person sitting alone in church. People right around us may not be hungry for food, but starving for someone to listen and care. And so, the most important part of Christmas is giving to others, giving not so much things, but the giving of ourselves.

Our giving to Jesus is not necessarily adding to our already hectic lives, but giving more of our hearts in our day-to-day dealings with people. We might find such joy and fulfillment in this sharing that we make this a way of life for the whole year. That way we will celebrate Christmas around the calendar! Isn't that what Christmas is really about anyway?

The Rev. John McGrann ministers from St. Jude Catholic Church. "From Heart to Heart" is coordinated by the Two Rivers Interfaith Ministries, a network of faith communities in the Eugene-Springfield area. For more information, call 344-5693.
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Dec 20, 2003
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