Reflection for Sunday December 21, 2014
By Dave O’Donnell
When I bought my first car in 1963, the first accessory I attached to the dashboard was a St. Christopher’s medal. The story of St. Christopher carrying a child across a rapid river during a storm and feeling the weight of the child and the subsequent realization that he was the Christ Child inspired and empowered generations to discover Christ in their midst. The story was so powerful that not long after it was first told Christopher, which means Christ carrier, became popular enough to be made a saint even though it’s doubtful he ever existed.
At some point after the ecumenical Council the story of St. Christopher was recognized for what it was, a great story and not factual so he was removed from the official list of saints of the church. The power in the story of St. Christopher is not in the accuracy of the events but in the meaning behind the events. In the New Testament, Jesus uses stories called parables, to teach. I believe and have found that all of the New Testament is more relevant to me when I accept it as metaphor and symbol. The power in the stories is revealed when I stop arguing with the facts.
In Sunday’s Gospel selection, the Angel Gabriel says to Mary: “Do not be afraid, Mary. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”
I accept that all things are possible through God and I experience God’s workings but in conventional ways. The meaning of the story to me is that God is amongst us and as the story proceeds to its conclusion, that we are each and every one of us a child of God. This must be the greatest story ever told and the greatest experience ever for anyone who has given birth to a child.