Christmas (C) 2018

A certain medical Consultant lecturing on the `Stages of Ageing’ presented a class
in medical school with a case study of a patient under his care.
“The patient neither speaks nor comprehends the spoken word. Sometimes she
mumbles and babbles incoherently for long periods.
She is disoriented about person, place, and time. She does, however, respond to her
name… I have looked after her for the past six months, but she still shows complete
disregard for her physical appearance and makes no effort towards her own care.
She must be fed, bathed, and clothed by others.
Because she has no teeth, her food must be liquid. Her shirt is usually soiled from
almost incessant dribbling and she does not walk.
Her sleep pattern is erratic. Often she wakes in the middle of the night and her
screaming wakes up everybody else. Most of the time she is friendly and happy, but
several times a day she gets quite agitated without any apparent cause. Then she
wails until someone comes to comfort her.”
After presenting the class with this challenging case. He then asked his students if
any of them would volunteer to take care of this person. No one volunteered. Then
he said, “I’m surprised that none of you has offered to help, because actually she is
my favourite patient. I get immense pleasure from taking care of her and am
learning so much from her. She has taught me a depth of gratitude I never knew
before. She has taught me the meaning of unwavering trust. And she has taught me
the power of unconditional love.” Then he said, “look here is her picture” and he
pulled out the picture and passed it around. It was the photo of his six-month-old
baby daughter.
This is very much our problem in our relationships with each other. We constantly
fail to recognise people for what they are.
Christmas has one big message for us. Emmanuel;­ God is with us.
Emmanuel means that this little baby in Bethlehem who has to be washed and
cleaned and fed. Who screams and kicks and wriggles in the most aggravating way,
is God.
Emmanuel means that the wife or husband who ignores what I say & who has the
most annoying habits and mannerisms, is God.
Emmanuel means that the children who disobey me and drive me to distraction are
God.
Emmanuel means that the parents who never seem to understand, are God.
Emmanuel means that the person sitting next to me now is God.
Emmanuel means that the little child creating the disturbance in the church is God.
As St John says; ’Those who say, I love God and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.’