Did you catch that second reading today from the Letter from James? As we are only ten days away from Christmas, most of us still are neck-deep in getting ready for the big day. Family logistics to nail down, presents to wrap (or maybe still to buy), food to prepare, cookies to bake, a Christmas tree to decorate, parties to host or attend…indeed I don’t know about you but I find myself thinking about these details during Mass these days. It’s hard not to! But amidst all the hustle and bustle of all these Christmas activities, James gives us two pieces of excellent advice. Of course, he is mostly referring to the second coming of Jesus but his words can be powerfully applied to our lives this Christmas season.
Right off the bat, he says “Be patient, brothers and sisters until the coming of the Lord”. Suppose we try to be more patient from now until the coming of the Lord…in eleven days. When your husband forgets to get the wrapping paper you told him to pick up at the store or your wife asks you to go to the market again because she forgot to tell you the first time to pick up a needed ingredient for the Christmas coffee cake, be patient. When the children or grandchildren leave your kitchen or house a mess when visiting, be patient. When you can’t finish all the chores you wanted to get done because a friend calls to discuss a problem she is having, be patient. Patience will make the Christmas season so much more enjoyable not only for you but also for your family and friends!
James also advises us “Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another…” Whether we verbalize it out loud or say it to ourselves, there are so many opportunities to be critical of one another during the Christmas season. “I can’t believe all my wife does is worry about gifts”; “How come my husband doesn’t help me with making all these Christmas food preparations?” “My goodness, what a silly gift!” The opportunities to be critical of one another are legion during the Christmas season but suppose we substitute gratitude for critical spirit this Christmas season. “Thank God my wife’s such a thoughtful person!”; “Thank God my husband is so devoted to our grandchildren”; “Thank God I am receiving any gifts when so many people get none”
When we receive Our Lord in Holy Communion next, let’s ask him to help us be more patient, less critical and more grateful…until at least Christmas Day. And you know what? With more Communions, prayer and personal effort maybe we can keep it going to next Christmas…and beyond!