The new leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has been making a point of spending time with and giving attention to people who are disadvantaged and in need during his first Christmas as pope. In one event earlier this week, as part of his 77th birthday celebration, he invited four men who are homeless, living on the streets near Vatican City, to share his birthday breakfast with him and his aides.
This new pontiff is leading by example showing how to follow the message given to us by Jesus Christ to show kindness and love to our fellow human beings.
At this time of year, as Christians the world over mark Christmas, it is well to remember this message exemplified by Pope Francis’ actions.
Sometimes, with the focus on preparing for Christmas Day with family, buying gifts, mailing cards and presents, and preparing special dishes, it may be easy to overlook those who cannot be with family or who, for one reason or another, have lost family connections.
At this time of year, there are also those with family, but who have little or no means to purchase gifts, especially for those who most look forward to them, the children.
What would make this celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ more meaningful than to extend the spirit of giving to those most in need?
In Canada, even in our large urban areas where multiculturalism thrives, Christians are still in the majority and that inspires celebration of the season everywhere. The lights, the trees, the sights and smells, along with the sound of Christmas carols create a positive spirit that is contagious and the desire to extend ourselves just a little bit more at this time of year is widespread, even among people of other religious faiths.
What better way, then, to embrace the thrill of hope that is God’s gift to the world, the humble birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, than to give to those who might not expect anything at this time of year because of their difficult circumstances.
One of the great personal rewards in any life comes from willingly giving to others in need. That is why each year so many choose on Christmas Day to volunteer with the Salvation Army, at support centres like the Scott Mission downtown, or through their churches, to ensure that as much as possible everyone who wants to can be part of the spirit of sharing and goodwill that is at the heart of Christmas.
This is an opportunity to remember those less fortunate among us and to reach out to those who might otherwise be alone at Christmastime. That includes those who have fallen on hard times, so many of the elderly who now reside in seniors’ residences and do not have visitors often enough, or those who may be spending Christmas in hospital, especially children.
This would also be the time to open our homes, inviting neighbours to join us for Christmas. This is how we build a sense of community. Our gestures do not have to be big to be meaningful for those with whom we are blessed to share this time of year.
So let us all do our best to make this a real old-fashioned Christmas by remembering the homeless and the neighbourhood children whose parents might not be able to provide the kind of Christmas with a special meal and presents that other children take for granted. Let us ensure that Christmas cheer is the gift that everyone receives this year.
There is no question that this year, 2013, has had its memorable moments, both of highs and lows. With his recent passing, the lifelong fight for his people, his commitment to giving his all which was the very essence of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, should remind us all that when we share our time and love for humanity with our fellows we can and do make a powerful difference in the world around us. What better way to honour the beauty of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmastime?
We at Share extend to you and your family, to all our readers, both in print and online, and to our faithful advertisers our very best wishes for a blessed Christmas season. May the joy and spirit of the season be yours to share.