“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Matt 3:3
It was the beginning of Advent, a time for the children in this little Catholic Elementary School to begin preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It was a time to do penance for their sins, the nuns reminded their students. “Give up candy until Christmas Day. Say extra prayers at bedtime. Say a daily Act of Contrition and ask for forgiveness for your many sins.” Sister Mary Anne, apparently, had different ideas about preparing her students for the celebration. These children were experiencing the Great Depression of the 1930s and needed a story about love.
On the first Advent Monday, Sister began reading a story to her students – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Before lunch each day, the students listened to the saga of stingy Mr. Scrooge and how he learned to prepare for Christmas in a dream where a kind spirit (an angel?) took him on a journey into the depths of his soul. There he saw the many acts of unkindness that he routinely committed - an experience that changed his ways when he awoke. Sister Mary Anne had taught the children about a kind, loving way to prepare for the birth of Jesus, a way that reflects what Jesus taught us about loving our neighbor.
Daily Reading: John 9:1-7
9 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3 Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4 We[a]must work the works of him who sent me[b] while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.