It was a simple story. Jesus was born in the simplest way, in the simplest place, of the simplest people. He was born at the simplest time, without disturbance or noise. No pomp, no ceremony, no titles, nothing of vanity. No place to be born within society. The onlookers were camels, donkeys, cattle and sheep. (And now you and I, onlookers from across the centuries, sadly sometimes resembling the first)
Hay for a blanket, stars for the canopy.
Humility, simplicity, gratitude, love, and faithfulness. These marked the moment.
This simplicity resonated in deep harmony with the heavens. Heavenly favor was revealed by a playful star, by enchanting trumpets, by choirs of heaven voices, by profound peace on earth. Who could ask for more?
The depth of this witness brought simple kings to their knees on the floor of a manger, far from their splendid halls, (but it drove complexed kings into jealous rage, pacing fretfully on marble floors, planning the murder of children).
Would that the world were simple. Wonder if children were just children. Not poor or rich. Just children. All favored. Does anyone even notice the dancing star anymore? Or are we weary, heavy, burdened, and trudging on with little hope?
Wonder if the way to help children, whose circumstance brings them far from their God-given favor, were simple. No heavy beaurocracys’ that become self-serving, no divided motivation, no demands for attention or fame or reward. Just simple.
Imagine committees, studies, projections and budgets giving way alternately to loving embrace, or passionate challenge, each in its season.
The call of Christmas, to you and to me, is the call to the simplicity of life that gives us freedom. It is call to free ourselves from complexity, and all the dangers that complexity brings. It is the call to serve humbly the God who is the beginning, the middle and the end of our journey. The God who especially loves children.
It’s a call to be simply, father, mother, daughter, friend, to the children who need us. The call to share hearts and values, time and treasures, and to share a journey together across the streets paved by our very limited days, toward our endless horizon. No one too far ahead. No one too far behind. No one left alone, no one left discouraged, no one lost.
A song for food, a laugh for drink, the joy of bread and wine.
As we continue to work together to help the children of Haiti, in season and out of season, in an ever more complex world, let us beg God to help us as we build with them, and for the children, a future.
Yes, we surely build homes and schools. We build clinics and hospitals. But we must build up lives and values. We must build up mercy and justice, dignity and peace, hope and trust. We must build the simple values proclaimed by the heavens, and fashion for ourselves and for the children simple lives. (Unless the Lord builds the house, in vain do the builders’ labor!)
Once again, we thank you for joining us in this noble cause. We carry you in our hearts and prayers. The New Year holds for us all many difficult challenges. We pray for you, in thanksgiving, that you will be blessed and strengthened by the One who is called Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
(But, be blessed and strengthened by all of us, too!)
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
Fr Rick Frechette
Port au Prince, Haiti