Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
A few years ago I moved from Egypt to Minnesota. In my country, Christmas is about doing things in different ways. People wear new clean and ironed clothes because most of them are workers and farmers. They eat a lot because they do not have enough money to do it every day or even every month. One distinct thing about my culture is the noise which is ten times worse during Christmas. If you walk by a house and you do not see any of these signs of joy for Christmas, that means they are grieving the loss of loved one or suffering for other reasons.
Even though Christmas is a time of intense joy, every year around Christmas time I miss my family more. Likewise, for others, it can be the most painful time of year with painful memories, a time of not being able to be happy and joyful like others around you. What does Christmas mean for a patient with a new diagnosis; for a person with no family or social support? For a person staying in the hospital during Christmas? For a child with no parents and no presents, and for a person who lost their beloved? These are questions which with many of us wrestle during Christmas.
In life there is the good, the bad and the ugly. Christmas is about bringing hope and joy so that people can celebrate the good in all of us. That is what the readings are inviting us to do today, that is what Mary did by visiting Elizabeth.
Celebrate the good and do what you can to change the bad. Try to find a way to live in peace with what you can't change. Advent is a season of expectant joy and the reassurance that God is with us even in the midst of our troubling realities. The promise is not to live in this world without trouble, but to experience God with us whether we are happy or sad, healthy or sick.
In the middle of this happy and noisy Christmas season, you are not forsaken. God is listening and present in each situation. During the Christmas season we are focused on the fact that God became one of us, and assumed our human reality so that we might be with Him forever, so that joy will ultimately prevail over suffering.
Rev. Medhat S. Yoakiem
Associate Chaplain, Campus Ministry