"Again, Jesus spoke to them saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
It was 2:30am and I heard my husband talking on the phone. I was half asleep and thought he was talking with his employer as he was due to head out in the morning for storm work. I was mistaken. I learned that my father-in-law was rushed to the hospital after collapsing and not breathing. He had Bronchitis and was on medication to help him. I went back to sleep and then recieved a phone call about forty-five minutes later. It was my husband saying that his dad didn't have much time. I immediatley got out of bed and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It was then, 3:33am. I then continued to pray the rosary. Wasn't sure what was going to happen, but again I tried to go back to sleep. Then, about a half hour later, my husband came home. I immediatley knew that my father-in-law was in transition from this life to the next.
It was a week before Thanksgiving when this all occured. Last year at work, the priest who I work for mentioned to me that people die near the holidays. He said he had a lot of funerals near Christmas. I never really gave it much thought, but then realized that yes, this is a fact. My grandmother died ( when I was in middle school) just days before Christmas, and my aunt died ( five years ago) right after New Years Day. Not sure why that is? Maybe it has to do with stress, the holidays, longer days without the sun, cold weather? or maybe something else?
Death of a loved one is always hard and grieving takes time. It is also more difficult around the holidays, and when the days are getting shorter and nights are getting longer. It can feel daunting. This past year, 2020 has been very challenging. With the death of my husband's father, now my mother-in-law in the hospital, being in the middle of a pandemic, and civil unrest, there is a "heavyness" in the air. There are four days left till Christmas. Isn't this supposed to be the "most wonderful time of the year?" Where is the Joy? Thankfully, I have my faith that helps me get through tough times like these. Joy can still be found, even among the heaviness of life. It is found in Jesus. He is the source of Joy! He is the love, the peace and the hope that humanity searches for.
Growing up, Christmas was always a time of festivity, time with family and friends, Christmas parties, laughing, eating, opening presents and having time off from school and work. But of course, this year looks a lot different. Even though, we may not be able to spend time with the ones we love, or go to Christmas parties, we can still know that God is with us in the messiness of life. Jesus shares my sorrows, my joys. He walks along with me in all of this, and it makes it a whole lot better. A whole lot easier. As the writer, Theodor Geisel, another known as, Dr. Suess said "Christmas came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags. Christmas doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps means a little bit more." The true meaning of Advent and Christmas is inviting Jesus into our hearts and having Him be part of our lives. Once He lives in a person's heart, then that person can get through all of the challenges of life.
Today is also the shortest day of the year with the shortest amount of sunlight. It is the first day of winter. Like all things in 2020, this winter solstice will make history. The planets Jupiter and Saturn will align close to one another, making it look like a very bright star in the sky. The last time this happened was over 400 years ago. This is believed to be the Star of Bethlehem, where the three wise men and shepards saw this as a sign that Jesus was born. I don't think this is a coincidence that this event is happening now in our lifetime. Especially, under the circumstances that we are all living in. God speakes to His people in every generation. He gives us signs, such as the Star of Bethlehem, life's events and people in our lives to show His love for us. He is showing us His light in the darkness. Jesus said that He is the way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Life will be so much more difficult without Him. So, why not invite Him into your heart right now? You won't be disappointed. You can say this simple prayer - Jesus, I am sorry for all that I have done in the past, please forgive me and come into my heart. Unite my soul to yours and be part of my life. Amen! Once you invite Jesus into your heart, you will see that He will cast out all darkness and the light will shine through!
God Bless you and keep you safe this Christmas and have a healthy New Year!
About the Author: Donna L. Marotto is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Youth Minister and a Secular Franciscan. If you would like her to speak at your church or event, please contact her at email@example.com or if you have any comments or questions. Look for her monthly blogs, every 3rd Monday of the month. January blog will be on Unity.