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Christmas Greetings to you and yours!


There is a short poem that I heard when I was a child. In my memory it went:

"Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man's hat. 

If you haven't a penny, a ha'penny will do . If you haven't a ha'penny, then God bless you."

To my young ears that sounded anything but joyous or Christmas-like. Now that I am much older, and I hope a little wiser, I can see that this little poem reminds us that Christmas is all about putting a penny in the old man's hat. For Christmas is a time for giving and giving, and giving again.

At that first Christmas, the Almighty God gave to the world a special gift: The gift of the Word Made Flesh. And for centuries, Christians have celebrated that unique gift of God by giving gifts to family and friends, and by giving to those in need. Jesus came among us human beings, not just to redeem us, but to show us the way, the path we must walk to our Heavenly Maker. That path, is the path of love! That path is the way of loving God with our whole mind, and heart, and soul, and of loving our neighbor as ourselves. From all that Jesus taught us, we know that such a love demands that we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, and in the language of the Old Testament prophets, that we care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the alien who live among us.

Which takes us back to that little poem.

That little poem makes me ask myself: "What poor person have I helped this season?" Everyday, I encounter poor people, especially those experiencing homelessness, or people who are barely getting by. One way I respond to them is, every now and then, to intentionally leave the warmth of my home and go in search of three or four poor folks. I go armed with pre-loaded gift cards, especially from the fast food place that is in my neighborhood. Sometimes, I go out carrying new pairs of socks, or in hot weather, bottles of water. I see what I do as putting a penny in their hats. And for me, it is never a question as to whether or not the poor I see are worthy of my help. Humanity was not worthy for Jesus to come among us. It is enough that the poor and homeless are simply that -- Poor and homeless, for our faith teaches us that they are Jesus! What we do for them we do to Jesus!

In this holy season, may you find the way that works for you to put a penny in the old man's hat. And for that, may God bless you!

May you and yours have a Blessed Christmas season!


Stephen, CMJ

Steward Guardian

Check It Out!


Chicago Catholic, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago, published an article on Maryville's St. Monica Recovery Home and their good work and ministry-- and features Br. Jonathan Wheat, CMJ! Read the article here.

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