Greetings from Pittsburgh. The shorter days and winter weather have arrived in our part of the world. On my way home from work last night in the dark and light snow, I passed the Tree of Life Synagogue as workers just finished taking down the temporary memorials for the victims of the October 27th tragedy. I believe that perhaps some healing has started within our city. There have been many stories these last few weeks of people of “good will” offering their help and support to our local Jewish community.
“We will bring to Jesus, at the same time so great and so little, all our weaknesses, our difficulties, our feelings, as well as our love and good will. What a great joy, my friend, to remember that on this holy night the angelic messenger sent by God promised the rewards of peace not only to the saints but to people of “good will.” We’re not saints, by any means, but our Christmas gift to our all-loving Friend will be our total, joyous good will.”
Elisabeth Leseur Selected Writings, Paulist Press, Janet Ruffing
As I reflect on the timeless words of Elisabeth dated December 15, 1911, I am reminded of the meaning of Christmas. Decorating, cooking, baking, shopping for gifts, family and social gatherings all happen in December in preparation for Christmas. So often, we overcommit and become overwhelmed with self imposed demands and unrealistic expectations for the holiday season. It is all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas; the celebration of God’s greatest gift to us – the birth of Jesus our Savior.
The writings of Elisabeth inspire me to slow down, breathe, relax, pray and be present in the moment with a willingness to be a person of “good will.” What does it mean to be a person of “good will”? When I ponder that question, many things come to mind. That may mean to provide a listening ear to someone struggling with an illness or a serious issue. Take time to call or visit someone you haven’t seen in a while instead of sending a text message or card. Use kind words and a smile when you greet or converse with a friend or a stranger. A smile is a window to your heart. Visit a friend or a loved one in a hospital or nursing home. Offer a helping hand or a hug to someone in need. Buy a cup of coffee for an elderly person sitting alone and spread the joy of companionship by spending a few minutes with them. Perhaps give money or food to a homeless person without being judgmental. These are examples of simple but meaningful acts of kindness that may inspire us to be a person of “good will”. By showing love and kindness to others we keep Jesus in our heart. It is important to consider how we may extend our acts of “good will” beyond the Christmas Season.
So sing loudly during your Christmas celebration: “Glory! Glory to God in the highest! And on earth peace to people of good will!”
May your hearts and the hearts of people you touch be filled with peace, love and joy!
Patricia Conroy is resident of New Kensington, Pennsylvania U.S.A. She is a practicing Catholic and has been married for 39 blessed years. Patricia is a health care professional working as a cytotechnologist for 40 years. She is also a certified yoga instructor.
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With our prayers,
Jennifer and Joe