Close your eyes for a moment and picture the central figure of Christmas: a newborn baby, bundled in a peasant’s rags, naked and hungry and vulnerable, totally incapable of taking care of himself. He is the fitting symbol of all that Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, stood for then and stands for to this day.
Jesus was and is the ultimate champion of the helpless and vulnerable. Implicit in His teachings was the promise that as we come to know and understand the needs and heartaches of others, we will come to know Him as well. So it was that He admonished us to take care of our brothers and sisters who suffer—to feed the hungry, to offer refreshment to the thirsty, to take in strangers, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick and the imprisoned. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,” He said, “ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
Those teachings bring to mind a familiar carol of Christmas inspired by the legend of Václav I, Duke of Bohemia (known more commonly to us as “King Wenceslas”), who lived in the 10th century A.D. The song recounts the duke’s reaction to seeing a peasant gathering wood on a blustery, snow-filled night, the day after Christmas. Although the peasant lives several miles from the duke’s home, the monarch instructs his page to gather food and fuel for the man and his family. Wenceslas and the servant then set out through the bitter cold, laden with provisions to bring warmth, sustenance, and love to fellowcitizens facing hardship and deprivation.
Although the song itself makes no explicit mention of Christmas, it is very much a Christmas song—a fitting reminder of Jesus and the Gospel that He taught. May we follow the example of the good king even as we follow in the footsteps of the King of Kings, reaching out in love and kindness to all.
God bless you and your loved ones throughout this Christmas season and beyond.