“Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal” (John 1:26-27).
This week, I need us to turn our attention to recognizing the presence of Christ in our midst and finding different ways to welcome him into our lives. The story below will help drive our lesson home.
A certain monastery discovered that it was going through a crisis. Some of the monks left, no new candidates joined them, and people were no longer coming for prayer and consultation as they used to. The few monks that remained were becoming old, depressed, and bitter in their relationship with one another. The abbot heard about a holy man, a hermit living alone in the woods and decided to consult him. He told the hermit how the monastery had dwindled and diminished and how it now looks like a skeleton of what it used to be. Only seven old monks remained. The hermit told the abbot that he has a secret for him. One of the monks now living in his monastery is actually the Messiah, but he is living in such a way that no one could recognize him.
With this revelation, the abbot goes back to his monastery, summons a community meeting and recounts what the holy hermit told him.
The aging monks look at each other in unbelief, trying to discern who among them could be the Christ; could it be Brother Mark who prays all the time? However, he has this holier-than-thou attitude toward others. Then they considered Bother Joseph who is always ready to help? However, he is always eating and drinking and cannot fast. The abbot reminded them that the Messiah has adopted some bad habits as a way of camouflaging his real identity.
This only made them more confused and they could not make a headway figuring out who was the Christ among them. At the end of the meeting, what each one of the monks knew for sure was that any of the monks, excepting himself, could be the Christ.
From that day, however, the monks began to treat one another with greater respect and humility, knowing that the person they are speaking to could be the very Christ.
They began to show more love for one another, their common life became more brotherly and their common prayer more fervent. Slowly people began to take notice of the new spirit in the monastery and began coming back for retreats and spiritual direction. Word began to spread and, before you know it, candidates began to show up and the monastery began to grow again in number as the monks grew in zeal and holiness. All this became possible because a man of God drew their attention to the truth that Christ was living in their midst as one of them.
Love, dear people of God is like a virus, it spreads easily and fast. The best way to build a community is to make it a place of love. People in the past have been, and will continue to be part of a community where there is love and concern for each other. We need to take a good look at our parish community and see if it is a place of love; a place to call home; and most especially a place that the baby Jesus will find it comfortable staying this Christmas. Do we hear new parishioners and visitors complaining of not feeling welcomed? It is the duty of every one of us to make our parish a home for all as we acknowledge the presence of Jesus in our midst.
Fr. Dominic Yamoah is a Catholic Priest from the Catholic Diocese of Konongo-Mampong. He has been a priest for 18years serving God’s people in diverse way. The above reflection is a fruit of Fr. Dominic Yamoah’s ministry in St. Clare Catholic Church in Clarinda, and its sister churches in IOWA, UNITED STATE OF America. ‘I have been blessed to hail from a loving family’ (Fr. Dominic Yamoah).
Keep Fr. Dominic Yamoah in your daily Prayers.