Merry Christmas, folks. Please just take a moment and gather with me around the fireplace as I have the opportunity to share with you my Christmas greeting and my wish for all of you and your family members and your loved ones this Christmas season.
The other day I was walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago and I came to the corner of Michigan Avenue and Superior Street. There was a man standing on the corner very familiar to me. I’ve seen this man there for 30 years every single time I’ve been at that intersection. His name is Mike. Mike stands there with a red and a white cane and a tin cup in his hand. He looks for the generosity of others. Mike is blind. For 11 years, I used to work just half a block from where Mike stands. Everyday as I walk to our pastoral center at the Archdiocese of Chicago, I would greet Mike and we’d exchange words with one another. I saw how people were generous to Mike over time, but I saw how Mike was so generous to others with his smile and with his kindness of heart.
Mike couldn’t see like you and I see, but he saw in deeper ways, the ways that I believe this Christmas season is all about. We call the season of Christmas the season of lights. It comes at the darkest time of the year, light into the darkness. Jesus, the light of the world, comes to us as the very Son of God. God’s son, the light of the world sent to us, to lumen our lives, but to lumen our hearts. See, what I believe and what I know Mike believes as well is that this Christmas season is really about not seeing so much with our eyes, but seeing with our hearts, with hearts of compassion.
Meister Eckhart who was a theologian in the Middle Ages says this, that the first word spoken by God was the word “compassion.” Jesus is the word of God made flesh. The first words spoken by God is the word “compassion.” Jesus comes to us as gift from God, as compassion to humanity, God’s gift. Compassion means to reach out and to help those who are needy, to walk with those who suffer. That’s exactly what Jesus taught us to do as well, to be people of compassion, not to see so much with our eyes during this Christmas season, but to see with our compassionate hearts and to reach out and to help those in need.
You, my friends, are people with hearts of compassion. You continually reach out and help the over 700 children and family members entrusted to our care here at Mercy Home. Your compassionate heart, your generosity, your kindness literally transforms the lives of the children here at Mercy Home. For that, I want to thank you from the deepest recesses of my own heart for all that you do for the children at Mercy Home. I want to wish you and your family members and your loved ones a very, very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and a holy New Year. God bless you.