Christmas Eve is a day for the celebration of love and sharing, on which no one should be alone, said my mother always while preparing the festive dinner on this December’s afternoon. In the kitchen, she lovingly took care of the twelve traditional dishes for the menu.
As children, we were responsible for decorating the Christmas tree, wrapping the presents and setting the table for this festive occasion. It was a lavishly decorated dinner table with a freshly ironed tablecloth, fine china and lots of Christmas decorations. According to our family tradition, there should always be an extra seat vacant at this table.
A seat reserved for an unexpected guest. We often asked who should visit us just on Christmas Eve? Our parents explained that there are not only lucky families like ours in the world. There are lots of people who are unhappy, lonely, or in need of help. There are homeless people and refugees who don’t have a home or who have had to flee their homeland.
So, if someone is coming to our door this evening, it is our Christian duty to offer them hospitality. The same way as we have to offer a home in our hearts to the Christ Child who was born that evening. Born in a plain stable because there was no other place for the Holy Family under the star of Bethlehem.
When the evening came and the first star was watched in the sky we were sitting happily at the feast. We sang Christmas carols, we were telling stories, and we unwrapped our presents. The free seat at the table reminded us throughout of the Christ Child and all the homeless people.
Today, I have realized that the fate of Mary and Joseph is a story of fleeing. They had to flee to a foreign country from the ruling despot because the life and limb of their child was in danger. Currently, millions of people in the world are suffering a similar fate. They are fleeing from war and violence, from natural disasters and hunger.
It is our duty to help. It doesn’t matter whether we believe in the Christmas story or not. It is also our responsibility to enable people to live together in peace and dignity anywhere in the world. We all should think about this on Christmas Eve and consider where and how our help is necessary and our support is meaningful.
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