My family and I used to go to this “Little Drummer Boy” show every year. We would watch as the performers would drum away with flashing lights, pyrotechnics, and props flying around. As a kid, I loved these shows. The music hyped me up and the storylines captivated my imagination. For me, it was the best way to prepare for Christmas. I know everyone in my family looked forward to going to this show, from my Grandma, all the way down.
Growing up from then, I have realized that the “Christmas Season” has much less to do with what shows I go to, what gifts I bring, or who I go see. Rather Christmas is an invitation to become dependent on God as He became dependent on his family. Think about it, the God of the universe, the God who made the Earth by his power (Jeremiah 10:12), the God of the past, present, and future became an infant. The Lord over all became dependent on Mary for food and dependent on Joseph for a roof over his head. He became vulnerable to the sickness, disease, and dirt of the world that we have become accustomed to. This Christ, who is fully God and fully man, humbled himself to the point of complete dependence.
To say that I am Catholic, a believer in this Christ, I am calling myself a Child of God. But do I act like it? Do I humble myself to complete dependence on my Father in heaven as Jesus humbled himself to dependence on his parents on Earth? Do I look to God with gratitude and praise for the warm food and
cozy house I enjoy or do I praise myself for the work I did to earn it? We see in this Christmas story that Christ came into the world to become an example of how to live. The Christmas story shows us that Christ became dependent on his parents, giving us an example of what complete dependence looks like. Christ’s dependence on Mary and Joseph as an infant allowed him to become the Savior that we are now depending on for our own salvation.
In a culture that emphasizes independence and individuality, the idea of complete dependence on Christ almost seems radical. We have become far too comfortable in making our faith in Jesus just another part of our lives, a box to check off on Sunday rather than the lens that we see our world through. So when we are dealt a bad hand, when we go through a season of hardship, we attempt to put on a brave face and fix our problems on our own instead of humbling ourselves with the idea that our Father in heaven has a purpose for the hardship.
So what is the outcome of complete dependence on Christ? Peace. This peace does not come from understanding God’s plan for us, rather it is a peace that comes from knowing that God has a better plan for our lives that we would have no way of making for ourselves. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says to his apostles, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Christ has overcome the world. He is an example of how complete dependence on God the Father will lead to an everlasting peace. Even on the cross, He put his trust in the plan of the Father. Even in death, Christ found peace.
I was in fourth grade when I went to my last little drummer boy concert. I remember walking back to the car holding my grandma’s hand while we navigated the emptying parking lot. I was on cloud nine. I finished school for the year, presents were on the way, and the Christmas parties were just around the corner. The next day, my view of Christmas would begin to turn upside down. My Grandma who I had just been with the night before was rushed to the hospital. She had been perfectly healthy the day before, and I could not understand how her health could have changed so drastically in just a day. Less than a week later, I would weep into my parent's arms as they told me that she had passed away. I spent that Christmas Eve at a funeral mourning. Something that many of us, unfortunately, know all too well.
I wish I could have talked to fourth grade me and told him the things that I am saying now, though I am quite sure I would not have understood. I would have told him that God was changing him in this hardship to become the man he was going to become. I would have told him to search for peace in Christ rather than hide in isolation. I would have reminded him that Christ was born on Christmas day so that he could suffer with us, and for us. I wish I could have told him that Christ was there, mourning with me.
So this Christmas, while the people we visit and the plans we make might look different due to a virus we have no control over. While there might be some people missing from our dinner tables and Christmas games. While we prepare our hearts and minds for the birth of our Savior. Take a moment to reflect on if we have spent this last year growing dependent on God for peace and satisfaction, or if we spent this year growing dependent on ourselves. May the desire for a peace that only comes from God lead us to a dependence that only He can satisfy. For when we find that peace, the joy of Christmas follows.
Four years after my Grandma passed, I was in 8th grade and finishing my last day of school before Christmas break. I was called down to the office by the principal. When I got there, she handed me a phone and told me it was my father on the other side. I picked up the phone, and he would say one sentence that would change Christmas for me once again.
“You got a new baby brother Adam, do you want to meet him?”