Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: December 25, 2021
In World War II there was a soldier on duty on Christmas morning. It had been his custom to go to church every Christmas morning with his family, but now, in service on the outlying districts of London, this was impossible. So, with some of his fellow soldier friends, as dawn was breaking, he walked down the road that led to the city.
Soon they came upon an old, grey, stone building over whose main door were carved the words, “Queen Ann’s Orphanage.” They decided to knock and see what kind of celebration was taking place inside. In response to their knock, a matron came and explained that the children were orphans whose parents had been killed in one of the many bombings that took place in London.
The soldiers went inside just as the children were tumbling out of bed. There was no Christmas tree in the corner. There were no presents. The soldiers moved around the room wishing the children Merry Christmas and giving them whatever gifts they had in their pockets: a stick of chewing gum, a Life Saver, a nickel, a dime, a pencil, a pocket knife, a good luck charm.
The soldier who had gotten his friends together noticed a little fellow alone in the corner, that little fellow looked an awful lot like his nephew back home. So he approached him and said, “And you, little guy, what do you want for Christmas?” The boy replied, “Will you hold me?” The soldier, with tears brimming in his eyes, picked up the little boy and held him very close in his arms.
The mystery of Christmas is the good news of God wanting to hug humanity, God wanting to hold each of us in some way that we can see, feel, hear. In Jesus, God is holding us.
During this Christmas season, each one of us needs to take time to be in the presence of Jesus, to allow God to hug us, to embrace us in tender care. Then you need to look around, who needs to experience the love of God through you? In your family, among your friends, where you work or study, among your neighbours, in our parish. Are there people who are like that little boy who needs to be held by you, who need a hug from you, who needs a kind word from you?
You may be the one person who is able to hold someone on behalf of God. You may be the one person through whom God is able to be present to someone.
That little boy did not want any gifts on that Christmas morning, he only wanted one person to hold him. Who is the person in your life who just needs to know they are loved through you?