Reflection on Christmas

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

in News

Finding the Child

“And this will be a sign for you. You will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.” (Lk. 2:13)

These mysterious instructions are given by an Angel of the Lord to the shepherds.

The profound implication is: it is a revelation about Jesus, but it is also revelation they share in. If the shepherds find the child, they will find themselves. It is a sign “for you.”

What could this mean and why is it important?

We have many ways of identifying ourselves. If we are asked who we are, most likely we will bring forward one or more of the available selves that we embrace in our daily life. We identify with our gender, or our sexual orientations, or our age, or with a physical or mental suffering or characteristic, or with a social role or work position, or with membership in a race, a nationality, or a family, or with some traits or collection of traits of our personality, etc. 

Our work may describe us as facility and administrative staff, nurses, physicians, chaplains, managers, directors, leaders, Board members, sponsors – and all other ways we make Catholic Health Care work. 

But there is more going on than these usual ways we describe ourselves. In the symbolic language of Advent/Christmas, we are a “child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.”

As a “child,” we realize we are always indebted to a larger reality that continuously is creating us. We may be physically, psychologically, and socially adults, but on the spiritual level we remain in a position of receiving our existence from the ultimate Mystery of God. “Child” is the image for acknowledging our dependency on this greater Source.

As “wrapped in swaddling clothes,” we realize we are loved by the Source who created and sustains our existence. This image comes from an ancient way of caring for newborns. When a child was born, it was cared for and comforted by being wrapped in swaddling clothes. In the center of ourselves, we are receiving love from the reality that brought us into being. 

As “laid in manger,” we give the love we have received to others. The manger is a feeding trough. It is where food is made available. We feed others with what we have received.

The feast of Christmas is a mirror to our deeper selves. We all share in the spiritual reality revealed in Jesus; and if we take a moment and look inside, we will see the dynamics of this spiritual reality energizing our lives. The sign is for us.

We are a “child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.”

Post courtesy of Catholic Health Association USA.

“Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth among people of goodwill.” (Lk. 2:14)

This is the song the angels sing at the birth of Christ. They give glory to God in the highest because, paradoxically, God has not stayed in the highest. God “has visited and redeemed [his] people.” (Lk. 1:68)

Those who grasp this revelation, either implicitly or explicitly, know how to celebrate Advent/Christmas. They become people of goodwill bringing peace into the broken and estranged ways of the earth.   

Catholic Health Care has long acknowledged people of goodwill and recognized them as essential to its mission. The message of Catholic Social Teaching is that people of goodwill are the targeted listeners for its teachings and the carriers of its values of dignity and common good. Advent/Christmas is their time of year, a time when people of goodwill “do their thing.” abounds. 

People of goodwill reach out to make things better. They find themselves in situations that are not what they should be. It may be a situation of needless division among people working together, a situation where hardness of heart has replaced compassion, a situation where overlooking the poor has become a habit, a situation where the mediocre is accepted as the norm, a situation where not speaking the full truth is rationalized as self-protection, and all other situations where they sense a “rightness” is missing.

In these situations, people of goodwill begin a process of repair. Goodwill is more than an internal desire, a wish that things were not so bad. Goodwill is the art of entering into situations and discerning the path of greater peace. It sees a way forward that brings reconciliation and a fuller sense of life. Then it gently yet adamantly walks toward that desired future.

Second, people of goodwill give thanks whenever they see the good emerging. They do not have to be the main actors. Just the opposite. The glory of God is present in situations, and it will be mediated by many factors. But, whenever the good is emerging, it needs to be named and praised. People of goodwill are long on gratitude. Thanking is something they learn to do in many ways. As the spiritual saying has it, “There are a thousand ways to bow and kiss the earth.”

People of goodwill better situations themselves and thank all those who better situations.  We may know many of these people of goodwill.  More than that. In the depth of ourselves, Advent/Christmas tells we are those people of good will.

Post courtesy of Catholic Health Association USA.

Spirituality and You: True meaning of Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2016

This week we reflect on the true meaning of Christmas:
“It’s sharing your gifts, not purchasing gifts;
It’s not wrapping presents, it’s being present
and wrapping your arms around the ones you love.
It’s not getting Christmas cards out on time,
It’s sending any card, anytime, at the right time.
It’s not having the biggest and best Christmas light display;
It’s displaying [more…]

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Jennings presents live nativity story

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

In anticipation of Christmas, Jennings staff residents, participants and volunteers presented “Journey to Bethlehem,” in which they acted out some of the stories leading up to the birth of Jesus. Individuals enjoyed attending; they came to our auditorium, were given a handheld (battery-operated) candle and processed through these scenes. We concluded by singing “Silent Night” [more…]

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Family Christmas party

Monday, December 12, 2016

“All I want for Christmas…!” We had a lot of Christmas music, snacks and good cheer for our Christmas party. Thanks to everyone who came and participated. Here are just a few of the photos we captured. Please feel free to add your photos from the celebration and tag yourselves! If you have any questions [more…]

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Trinity High School students spread Christmas cheer at Jennings

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Thank you to the Trinity High School students who came to help us decorate and used their artistic talents to paint Christmas scenes around Jennings. We enjoyed the joyful presence of the students, and they made a difference in the lives of residents.
Trinity High School students painted Christmas scenes at Jennings.
Reposted from more…]

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Christmas reflection: grace

Thursday, December 24, 2015

“Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 
We knew only his name, not his story. Leon, just 37 years old, was one of those rootless souls who, by life’s violent incisions, become severed from their history and their future. He had come to us from a local boarding home, comatose and dying. He came [more…]

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Arbonne brings Christmas cheer to nursing home residents

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sunday we had some extra special Christmas cheer. Lauren and Abbey Calevich and their Arbonne team brought Santa and treated nursing home residents to early Christmas gifts. The team had a hot chocolate social in each neighborhood where they visited and passed out beautiful gifts. We are so blessed by their generosity, and the residents [more…]

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Spirituality and You: Epiphany

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

As we continue to celebrate the Christmas season after the feast of the Epiphany, Sister Valerie Sweeney shares this original poem by Chris, a Jennings resident:
Again we return to that unique day
When You left Your beloved Father’s side
To lie in a rough-hewn manger’s hay.
Again we marvel at such love
That brought You to us from Your home [more…]

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Holiday Advice from Larry Minnix

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Larry Minnix, President and CEO of LeadingAge (formerly the Association of American Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA)) wrote this article shared on his LeadingAge blog. The holidays surrounding this season are perhaps the most reflective about our lives, the most reverent for the highest power [more…]

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