With so much pain and suffering in the world, so much hostility and prejudice, so much anger and fear, so much abuse and hatred, so much greed and power-grabbing from every dark corner of every level of society, it is pure Joy to celebrate our Savior’s birth! He alone can change the hearts of men and women, to awaken our humility, our love, and our responsibilities to one another.
Yet first, we need to hear him, and then, to be willing to listen to his message. Listening to the Savior’s peaceful admonition to love one another as he has loved, and does love us, is the first step in preparing our hearts for his return to earth. We are all God’s children. There are no favorites, only some who were given greater responsibility than others to activate his message in a weary world growing colder and more cruel by the day.
The second step is doing something about his message. We can’t all be Mother Teresa but there are so many simple ways we can love people whether they look like us or not. I’ll only touch on five everyday ways from my own experience, out of the hundreds possible.
We can stop annoying the neighbors with our drunken parties and dissolute music.
Being considerate of other people seems to be a difficult social skill to learn but it shouldn’t be so. As children, we had vivid imaginations. Did our parents never teach us to imagine what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes? When they tried, did we throw a tantrum on the kitchen floor or storm out of the house, refusing to hear, let alone listen? I would have been slapped for such disrespectful behavior.
Have we since learned for ourselves that someone suffering from cancer, heart issues, or a host of invisible illnesses needs rest and sleep, and peace at all hours? No one is perfect but we can absolutely un-invite the rowdy, foul-mouthed guests and turn down the karaoke volume.
We can offer a word of encouragement to an acquaintance instead of a criticism about her family.
Probably no worse child exists than the child of privilege who is allowed to run screaming up and down a crowded church hallway or a store aisle or fight with siblings in the post office lobby. Yet you can sympathize with the parent trying to handle rambunctious children without help. There are normal stages of young childhood where obedience and self-control aren’t yet part of their vocabulary. It’s all a learning process.
On the other hand, if a child is kicking the seat in front of him or her, you can try giving the child the evil eye first and, if the kicking doesn’t stop, explain to the parent that you have a back injury. It should be obvious then that the child’s behavior is painful to you. Even so, you may have to get up and move if the parent blithely ignores bratty behavior. Of course, if the child kicks you directly with hard shoes on their feet, a direct reprimand is in order, whether dad and mom like it or not.
We can refrain from saying spiteful things when people get married during the pandemic.
To question someone’s decision to get married during a pandemic reeks of nosiness and innuendo. And perhaps, self-absorption, because there was no big shindig rightaway where you could try to outshine the bride.
It is similar to the person whose reaction to a surprising divorce is “WHAAAT HAPPENED?!” None of your business, actually. Just sincerely wish them well. No sarcasm needed.
We can increase in love and charity toward others.
Part of following the Savior’s admonition is increasing our own acquaintance with and understanding of the Holy Scriptures, regardless of our family roots.
During this pandemic and (for Californians) the devastating impact of Assembly Bill 5, we may have little cash available to contribute to charity drives, even by the most trustworthy of organizations.
We may struggle to pay our own rent and other bills, facing the very real fear we ourselves will end up living on the streets. But sacrifice always brings blessings from God, even if what we give can only be a couple of quarters we found in the pocket of a shabby coat.
And yes, we can always break up that dried crust of bread and put it out for the birds in our own neighborhood. Sure, the seagulls would find it in the trash at the landfill but by then it would be moldy, and the birds outside our window might have fainted from hunger.
We can stop looking for a communist behind every attempt to provide healthcare and dignity for the poor.
So many “Americans” have subscribed to conspiracy theories that they vote against every attempt to provide medical and dental care for the poor. Their rationale goes like this: “We don’t want socialism because it leads to communism. If people can’t afford to go to the doctor, let alone the hospital, then it’s because they’re lazy. They don’t deserve even the necessities of life, like clean clothes and nutritious food to eat. Therefore, medical care is only for the “have’s”. The “have not’s” aren’t as valuable as us, so they can go without until they’re dying in some hospital driveway and are a “charity case.”
This is obscene and has to stop!
We need to open our hearts and not be like the Grinch whose heart was two sizes too small. However, as I’ve said elsewhere, there’s nothing warm and fuzzy about fascism either, as anyone who grew up in Europe — or worse, lost relatives and friends in the Holocaust — can tell you. We need to find our courage to speak up for humanity instead of cowering behind the bellicose bullies of our time, letting them get away with atrocious behavior that would never be tolerated anywhere else. The USA was not God’s gift to the world; the Savior, Jesus Christ was!
The Gift of the Savior
The gift of the Savior to this cruel world was a gift of unfathomable love for us on his part. It is only through him, his atoning sacrifice and Resurrection that broke the bands of death, that we can return Home to our Heavenly Parents, if we so desire. Regardless, he died for all of us and gave us all immortality. Our actions here on earth, our faithfulness in following his precepts, determine whether our life in eternity will be in Outer Darkness, or in the highest realm of Heaven, or in some kingdom in between which otherwise-just and honorable men and women may inherit.
When the Savior returns to Earth to rule over it, as he will soon, there will be no more “-isms” and no more “-ites”. There will be only the laws of Jesus Christ to govern us. Those here who fear theocracy and its excesses, like those who embrace it, will bow their knee to the Savior and Redeemer of the world just like the rest of us. That includes priests and practitioners of every stripe. Even bullies and theocrats themselves will kneel. There are so many simple ways to prepare our hearts without being forced to do so.