by Jan Lewis
As I reflected on the Nativity story during the days leading up to Christmas, I could not help but be struck by the parallels between the life of Jesus Christ and the lives of those we are called to serve at Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas.
Contained within the beauty of the season is a message that points to the heart of our Savior and his ministry on earth.
A young woman has all of her hopes and dreams changed by an unexpected pregnancy. She, like many teenage mothers today, faced a life of uncertainty in a society that would be judgmental and condemning of her situation.
A father and mother, displaced by circumstances beyond their control, seek shelter for the night. Finding no place for them, they settle in a lowly spot: a stable. For many homeless families today that lowly spot may be their old car, an abandoned building, a deserted campsite or under a bridge — anywhere that will give some measure of protection from the weather and the dangers of the street.
The Holy Family, faced with the threat of persecution and even death, fled their homeland for the safety of Egypt. Still today, millions of individuals and families are forced to flee their homes due to war, famine, genocide, slavery and rape. Hundreds of these find their way to our little corner of the world in northeast Kansas, seeking a safe home and renewed hope.
As a young man beginning his ministry, Christ the Lord sees that his people are hungry. Using the resources given to him by a faithful follower, he feeds the multitude with only five loaves and two fish. At Catholic Charities, tens of thousands are fed each year through food pantries that are miraculously stocked by the faithful. This gift of food helps to stretch the budgets of lowincome, working families who struggle in jobs that barely pay a living wage.
Christ the Lord saw the sick and afflicted, and he was moved by compassion and healed many of them. Today, the healing hand of Christ can be found in the compassionate care of counselors, social workers, chaplains and nurses who, through Catholic Community Hospice, ease the pain and heal the spirit of the dying and their families.
The Christ Child whose birth we celebrate today came as a light in the darkness. He came as a beacon of hope to those who were hopeless. He came to point the way for us, showing us how to live a life of service. We don’t have to wait for Christ to come again; he comes to us each day in the faces of the least of our brothers and sisters.