The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Oscar Alunday SVD — SVD PHN Biblical Center, Vigan
December 23 / Octave before Christmas
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
December 23rd is celebrated every year in India as Farmers’ Day to celebrate the birthday of the 5th Prime Minister of India, Choudhary Charan Singh. He introduced many policies to improve the lives of farmers. Birthday celebrants today are believed to be “understanding, sweet, and sympathetic..good communicator … work well in any social setting. Your friends look up to your sophistication and elegance.”
St. John of Kanty would easily fit these descriptions but had to suffer for it. He was a famous professor in Cracow (Poland) among the studentry but was envied by his colleagues. So he was removed from his professorial chair and transferred to a parish. He was loved by parishioners for his genuine pastoral interest and care for the poor. After eight years, he was exonerated and transferred back to Cracow, where he taught Sacred Scriptures at the university for the rest of his life.
Malachi speaks of a messenger who prepares for the coming of the Lord in the temple. The messenger is described as a “refiner’s fire”—purifier of silver and gold, purifier of the offerings of the Levites (priests) to make them pleasing to the Lord. The messenger is Elijah the prophet, “the purifier” who turns the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.
We think of the “purifiers” and the prophets in our lives like Elijah or the Prime Minister of India, and St John Kanty. Elijah warned the people to change their lives from the worship of silver and gold—enjoying the glitter and the glory of life but turning away their lives from the Lord. The Indian Prime Minister guided his people in improving agricultural practices for the betterment of the lives of farmers and to diminish hunger. St. John of Kanty offered his life in patiently serving his parishioners and students as a witness to the true wisdom he derived from teaching Sacred Scriptures. John the Baptist prepared Israel and the world for the coming of the Lord.
What will you be this Christmas? What is your unique gift to the world, to the Church this Christmas? What is the best practice in your life that you can share as a gift? Enjoy appreciating the giftedness of others. Thank you for being a gift.