January 4, 2021
by Joan Blandin Howard
Creighton University - Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious
Lectionary: 212

1 John 3:22–4:6
Psalm 2:7bc-8, 10-12a
Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25

Celebrating Christmas home page

For those celebrating Monday of the Second Week of Christmas.



…the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
On those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen.”
When was this written?  Last month?

During the past – almost a year – we, in our country and every country over the world, have been sitting in a darkness of disease, a pandemic. COVID-19.  Sitting in the darkness of pain, suffering, death.  Separation and isolation.  Facing challenges in every corner of life: employment, housing, food, education, parenting, marriage, family life, elder care, and on and on.  Each one of us sitting in our own unique darkness.  Many days and nights we might have prayed, where is the light?  When will this end? When will there be a vaccine? When will I be able to hug and kiss my children and grandchildren, my grandmother?  Pray God, I see my husband/wife again. How many deaths? Many long days, many long nights for many. 

Jesus with his disciples in tow, went around “teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, curing every disease and illness…” We know from scripture that Jesus went out to the sick as well as the sick coming or being brought to him.  The truth spread, people listened and heeded the words of friends, neighbors and family and sought out Jesus.  People sought Jesus out because they needed help, a family member needed help or out of plain curiosity.  People were listening, seeking and in many cases were being cured.  If not cured, many were being healed of misguided, sorrowing, broken hearts.  When things did not turn out well, cries and jeers of “Where is your God” bellowed forth. You believe in a god who has let you down.  I for one would not follow such a fraud.  Promises, promises and no delivery.

Recently, we may have asked the same questions – where are you God?  Jesus, why aren’t you here healing me and mine?  I can’t hear you. I can’t see you. I can’t feel you. Come, Lord, come – let me hear your voice, let me see your face, let me feel your touch.  I am begging you, come to me. Please.

A very good question – where is God?  Where is Jesus?  Where are the disciples in tow? I don’t hear God speaking.  I don’t see God’s face.  I don’t feel God’s touch.  I don’t see his followers.

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Who is speaking the words of truth?  Who is speaking the words of wisdom and lived experience? Whose face does my daughter see when she is able to open her eyes?  Who held my husband’s hand as he died alone?  Who is sitting with my grandfather as he fumbles to understand what is happening? Who are the ones bone weary, yet still there? Who is walking in the light and beckoning me to follow?  Who?  Who?

Early one morning as the light was stretching through heavy snow clouds, I noticed how beautifully silent, gentle, comforting and cleansing the snow was.  Little birds hungry after protecting from yesterday’s snow, were playfully vying for space at the feeder. Hungry yet playful.  It made me smile in enjoyment of the normalcy of it.

One morning I realized how well I had slept.  I awoke rested and refreshed.  Although alone, I knew I had been safely held.  In the day’s quiet, I experienced the smile of my grandmother and the giggle of my sister – not feeling as distant as they actually were.  In the brilliance of the sunrise, I felt the warmth of light. In the glow of the sunset, I was washed of the grit of my fears.  I knew that all along the way, even wearing a mask, I had seen, heard and felt the presence of my God.            
       You are not alone.  I am with you.

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