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The Christmas song “Do You Hear What I Hear?” was written by Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker in 1962. The song has sold tens of millions of copies. What most people do not know is that Regney and Baker wrote this song in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the looming threat of a nuclear war. The song is less about celebrating the birth of Jesus and more about a call to “pray for peace” and to ask this child who “shivers in the night” to “bring us goodness and light.”
In this special Advent issue, we want to look at the question “Do you see what I see?” We want to ask this question from the viewpoint of God the Father, the Virgin Mary, and the Holy Spirit. “When I look at the manger, do I see what God sees? Do I see what Mary sees? Do I see what the Holy Spirit sees?” It’s our hope that by looking at the Christmas manger through their eyes, we can come to appreciate the gift of Jesus’ birth in a new way.
It’s Not About Me. Forty-six years ago, I was what you might call a “good Catholic boy.” I went to Mass at least twice a week. I tried hard to be a good person. I had been an altar boy. I wanted God’s help, and I did not want to go to hell. But at the root of it all, my life was all about me: my school, my sports, my food, my girlfriend, my money, my car, my fun—me, me, me.
All that changed in a moment, when I went to my first prayer meeting. One of the leaders of the group gave a talk on the disciples’ question about the woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume: “Why this waste?” (Matthew 26:8). “It’s not a waste for us to give ourselves to Jesus,” the leader said, “because he wasted himself on us.” When I heard these words, I felt as if I began to see what God sees. I began to see Jesus in a whole new light. That experience changed my life; it made me want to spend my life serving him, not myself.
Pray for Peace. The season of Advent is the perfect time for us to come see Jesus in a new way. It’s the perfect time to look at the baby in the manger and see the depth of his love for us. It’s the perfect time to say, “Jesus, I give you my life. Lord, I want to be an instrument of your peace in the world.”
There is so much selfishness, anger, and division in the world. Now, more than ever, we need to “pray for peace,” as the song implores us. Now, more than ever, we need to sow peace wherever we can. Now, more than ever, we need to try to see what God sees, not only when we look at the manger, but when we look at each and every person.
On behalf of all of us at The Word Among Us, I want to wish you a blessed and merry Christmas.