Hello dear readers!
I wanted to write something that I’ve been meditating on the past couple of days. I tried to focus on one particular virtue with Saint Joan, but to be honest, there are too many with this reflection. Whether that’s boldly proclaiming the Lord, suffering patiently, or even forgiveness, so I will leave to you for this Christmas reflection.
The holidays can be a pretty stressful time, especially for the faithful. We are constantly bombarded with irreverence during this most sacred time. It can hurt.
Whether that’s on t.v., at the stores, or even in our own families, we find the new god of Christmas… and isn’t Christ. It’s ourselves. We have kicked Christ out of his own birthday.
In today’s world, especially with Christmas right around the corner, we have removed the one instrumental thing from Christmas… and that’s well… Christ.
How often do we tell children about the story of Santa Claus (which to imagine, I’m sure the 4th-century Anatolian bishop is grievously wounded by considering his complete hatred of heresy.) but getting back to the point, we’ve focused more on worldly goods. We focus on gift-giving and receiving when we should be focusing on the why behind Christmas.
Why do we have Christmas? To be put so simply, it’s the birthday of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and our society, and even our families have rejected him on his Birthday. What would that equivalent be?
It would be something along the lines of your spouse, brother, sister, mother, or father ignoring you on your birthday and showing up for the cake, eating, then leaving. How would you feel if someone did that to you?
It would sting. It would hurt quite a bit. We’ve forgotten Christ’s birthday and went straight to the cake, and to be honest, it is shameful.
Wouldn’t that hurt if you just watched someone do this to your loved one?
Now don’t get me wrong. I love giving and receiving on Christmas, and our Lord would emphasize the love we express to one another on his birthday, but it needs to be in its proper place. It needs to be rightly ordered.
When we intentionally forget the Lord, we actively say that we do not know him. Worse yet, we might deny the reality that he was, in fact, a real person. We reject him as our savior. We deny Him as God.
Pondering this, I came to reflect on what Jesus went throughout the night.
I often imagine the scene where Peter outright denies him three times. Have we taken the time to ponder what Jesus would have felt at that moment? Wouldn’t that have hurt our Lord, seeing his friend deny him not only as a friend but also as Messiah at that moment, out of fear… to keep the peace? I imagine that might be more painful to our Lord. Peter was asked to make a stand… and he did not.
Jesus suffered more so, being thrown into a cell and forced to wait out the night as people mocked him, spat on him, and who knows what throughout the night, as he waited to meet Pontius Pilate.
Saint Joan was held as a prisoner of the Burgundians. She waited under heavy guard, hoping, praying that her king would rescue her. She prayed that her king would pay the ransom (which the Burgundians would have gladly accepted)
Joan prayed that her king would have at least written a letter.
Yet there was nothing.
The French did not pay for her ransom. It was the English who did. The very same English who hated her for her devotion and love towards God. Who sought to isolate her from friends and family, break her spirit by throwing her into a dark cell, only to be let out to go to trial. The very same trial that sought to destroy the reputations of her and the king that betrayed her. She sat in her silently waiting, enduring the insults and harassment of the English, all for the glory of God.
Yet, Joan was loyal to her God. Joan was loyal to King Charles VII despite being wounded by his betrayal. She told her judges that they could mock her all they wished but not to dare slander the name of her king. If that’s not forgiveness, I don’t know what is.
Yet when it came to her faith and her king, she openly defended them with love and compassion but with a firm resolve. Those judges at Rouen mocked her and openly questioned her faith, and every time, she defended her love and obedience to God against the very men who were supposed to serve the Church.
It was a tricky situation. A great many things were tempting Saint Joan, one of them, I imagine, would be towards hardness of heart. Whether that be to the corrupt judges of Rouen or the king that betrayed her. How tempting it would be to hate those who mocked her for her faith. Deep down, she forgave all of them, just as her Lord Jesus would have. She acted with grace, answering her judges patiently, despite their words wounding her? Moreso, she proudly defended her faith in the Lord, her king, and mission, never once giving into shouting.
Didn’t our Lord forgive Peter three times by asking him if Peter loved him? We approach an essential time. For those who have rejected Christ on his Birthday for materialism and gifts, it’s going to hurt us, especially when we come together as a family. Yet we must forgive our families while proudly proclaiming our Lord’s birth, even if they think it’s a “superstition or fairytale.”
Let’s face it. It’s going to cause some awkward tension in the family. There’s no escaping that reality. So let’s not be like Peter to our Lord or Charles to Saint Joan of Arc.
Let’s happily welcome our Lord and savior with open hearts and minds and celebrate his birthday with all of his saints, including Saint Joan, even if we will be mocked for it. We can rest easy knowing that we remember the true meaning of Christmas.
This Christmas season, we might be asked to suffer for our Lord just as he suffered betrayal. We might be asked to acknowledge or defend our Lord against loved ones who might disavow or deny him. Finally, we might be asked to forgive someone. Or all three.
Thank you, Saint Joan, help us to be bold in defending our Lord. Help us suffer well in the name of our Lord Jesus. And lastly, help us to forgive those who need it. Pray for us, Saint Joan of Arc, that we might celebrate the birth of our Lord with you and all the saints in Heaven!