By Sister Ruth Bolarte
Special to The CS&T
During this season of Christmas I had the opportunity to again watch one of my favorite movies, “The Fourth Wise Man.” This is the story of one of the wise men in the Middle East, Artaban, who longed to meet the newborn King the prophets had announced.
Artaban wanted to offer the infant King a gift of precious gems which he had purchased after selling all he possessed. His journey was “interrupted” by several encounters with people who asked for his help and presence. So he changed his plans. He taught, healed and shared the life of the poorest of the poor.
But, it seemed to him that his life had been a failure. He was sick, ashamed and frustrated because he had never been able to realize his mission: to meet the King, Jesus. And all the gems he had planned to offer to the King – they had been sold in his effort to provide for those he was helping.
It is not until Artaban stands before Jesus Himself that he understands that his journey was never “interrupted.” On the contrary, throughout his life he had been serving and meeting the King of Kings – in those he helped.
Next week we start Ordinary Time in our liturgical year. Probably most of the Christmas decorations have already been taken down and put away. We have returned to normality and the routine of our “ordinary” days. Perhaps for many of us Christmas is already a distant memory.
However, if we are really aware of the significance of the great mystery of the Incarnation of God, Christmas has not ended. On the contrary, the “work of Christmas” has just begun. I share with you this poem by Howard Thurman which expresses vividly how we can continue living Christmas during these “ordinary” days:
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.
May our “Christmas work” proclaim to all around us: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M., is the director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization in Philadelphia.