December 25 ~ The Feast of Christmas
Good Will and Kindness
One night, hundreds of years ago, in a country far across the sea, some shepherds were watching their sheep in the fields. The stars were shining brightly in the deep blue sky, the woolly sheep and the little lambs were sleeping nearby, and it was very still. The shepherds were wide awake, for fear that a bear or wolf might steal out of the woods and carry away one of the flock. So they watched, and while they watched they talked together. They were great, strong men, with kind faces, and they were dressed in coarse clothes, with crooks in their hands. They talked in low tones about the coming King, for they knew that someday the promised King would come to save their nation.
“When he comes,” they said, “he will be seen here, in Bethlehem, for so it is written in the Holy Book.” Then a wonderful thing happened! Out of the starry sky came a beautiful shining angel, and around him shone a great light, the light of the glory of the Lord. It was so strange that the shepherds were afraid. “Fear not,” said the beautiful angel, “for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, for this day is born to you a Saviour who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.
And there were other angels singing the sweetest hymn the earth has ever heard. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will,” they sang until the hills round echoed the music, and even the stars in the sky seemed to be dancing for joy. Softly the music and light faded away into heaven, and all was calm and still again around the shepherds. But their hearts were filled with gladness; the King has come, the King for whom they had watched! Up the steep path to the town of Bethlehem they hurried, their sheep following them. They came to a stable, a kind of cave, and there, with donkeys and cows and sheep around Him, lay a wonderful little baby. He was lying in one of the boxes the animals eat out of, a crib, and He was wrapped about in soft pieces of muslin. So the shepherds knew He was the King.
There in the stable the shepherds knelt and worshipped that wonderful Babe, the Child Jesus, the King for whom they had so long watched and waited and prayed.
You have just heard the Bible story, my dear children, and now I am going to tell you about a lady whose name was Goodwill and who during her life practiced the beautiful lesson this feast teaches. She had a little home far away in Europe, just a little cottage home in a small village, but a sweet and happy home, nevertheless. It happened one day that the people of that place all expected the Great King to pass through the village on a certain night, and everyone was on the lookout for Him. When the wonderful night came Lady Goodwill had her home ready, as if expecting the King for her guest. The lamp was lighted and the food was ready, and the bed was all prepared. While she was waiting someone came to the door, and her heart beat fast, for she thought that perhaps the King had come to rest in her humble home. She opened the door quickly, but was greatly disappointed, for there at the door stood a poor, tired, cold woodman, with his wife and his little shivering boy. They asked to be taken in and kept during the night. But Lady Goodwill said: “Oh, not tonight! I am expecting a friend tonight.” The woodman, with a look of sadness, said: “That is what they all say. No one will let us stay tonight. Everyone is expecting a guest tonight.” Lady Goodwill was about to turn away, when she saw the face of the little child lifted to hers. It was the most beautiful face she had ever seen, and her heart softened at the sight. The next moment the three cold and weary travelers were in her quiet warm room and the little child was lying in the bed that had been made for the King.
The Lady Goodwill, having made them comfortable, went into the streets. She was indeed, greatly disappointed. She had had a dream that the King might be her guest that night, and now it could never, never be. But if she could not have the King in her own home, she could go out to meet Him; and so with the lamp in her hand, she went out, and there in the streets she met the shepherds and some wise men searching for the King, and the Christmas star was leading them through the streets and a crowd of people were anxiously following them. So Lady Goodwill went with the crowd, and the star led them from street to street and from house to house, until at last it led them back to the door of Lady Goodwill’s own cottage. “Not here, not here,” cried Lady Goodwill; “it cannot be here; this is my own little, humble home!” But the wise men and the shepherds said that it must be that the King was in that home, for the star stood low above the cottage. Lady Goodwill opened the door, and what a sight met her eyes! The little house was all ablaze with light, for there in her own home was the Holy Family, and on the snow-white bed lay the infant King. She fell at His feet and worshipped and wondered. How happy she was! What a grand Christmas gift Lady Goodwill received for her charity and kindness.
My dear children, I am sure you all understand the story. Jesus often comes to us without telling us who He is. He wants to know if we are kind and gentle, loving to others, to the poor and to old people, and to little children, and He tells us in this story that when we are kind to others it is just the same as if we were kind to Him. When Jesus comes into our hearts with His sanctifying grace in Holy Communion, then we have beautiful thoughts and see beautiful sights and hear beautiful things, so that all these beautiful things make us wish to be beautiful in our own lives.
St. Paul tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Boys and girls who are always receiving and never giving are bound, by-and-by, to become so selfish and hard that no one will care for them. But those who give become kind and are loved by everyone.
And the greatest and the best reason of all why it is more blessed to give than to receive, is because when we give to the poor we are giving to Jesus; when we are doing a kindness to one of those who suffer or are in want, we are doing it to Him, and He will give it back to us a hundredfold when He welcomes us to His home with the angels in heaven.
Taken From ~ Anecdote – Sermonettes for Children’s Mass
by Rev. Frederick A. Reuter