[gtranslate] Have an Attentive End to Your Christmas - Eglise Catholique Saint James (Saint Jacques)

Have an Attentive End to Your Christmas

Have an Attentive End to Your Christmas

The first years of a teacher practicing their craft are always difficult. They, like many professionals just starting their careers, tend to walk like baby giraffes, stumbling through curriculum, stumbling in and out of collegial teamwork, and falling face-first into classroom management. It is painful.

I remember stumbling like that for years. I had confidence, expertise in my field of study, positive relationships with students, but no matter how many advantages I brought to my classroom, my students would inevitably perform worse than those who were in class with my veteran colleagues. I thought I was “good,” but I was missing something.

After years of practice, observation (and yes, prayer), I figured out what I was missing– attentiveness.

Attentiveness, or as one of my undergrad professors called it, “with-it-ness,” is summed up in having the ability to be aware of everything that is going on around you. As a teacher, this meant not only crafting the most impactful activities into my lesson plans, but more importantly paying attention to how those activities affected my students. Were they engaged in my lectures? Did they work well in groups? Were they actually learning?

I had to become a detective of sorts to see if my tactics were resulting in their academic success. I became very good at reading body language, voice tone, and peer interaction– everything my students did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say, gave me a clue into what made them tick. From these observations, I not only learn how to become a better teacher– I learn who my students really are.

Attentiveness goes beyond the classroom; it is a necessary component of holiness.

As we draw closer to the end of the Christmas season, let’s explore the importance of attentiveness in the characters present before, during, and after the Nativity of Our Lord.

Mary & Joseph

The coming of our Savior was not a typical arrival. A baby born of a virgin? Absurd. Or was it ? Are not God’s plans significantly more perfect than ours? Indeed, if we go back to the first man and the first woman, Adam and Eve, who were both “born” virginally. It has been theorized by some theologians that virgin births were the original plan of God to populate the world. How fitting, then, it was for Mary to wait attentively in silent prayer when the Angel Gabriel came, praised her as his Queen, and announced that she would conceive in this way. Perhaps even more heroically did Joseph remain attentive to the workings of the Holy Spirit as he accepted Mary as his wife and the child she bore as his son.

The Shepherds and the Wise Men

Two groups of people were given the good news of Christ’s birth: the shepherds and the wise men. The shepherds were simple people, uneducated but skilled in the raising of their beasts. The wise men were just the opposite– they were learned men who, without the burden of physical labor, sought the completion of their knowledge in Jesus. These two “types” of people represent the blue and white collar people of the world– physical laborers and knowledge workers. Both were attentive to the signs in the skies. Both knew that there was more to life than their “work.” Both found what they were looking for in Christ.

Simeon and Anna

Simeon was a Jewish rabbi who was given a unique gift. He was told that he wouldn’t die until he had seen the Savior. One day, he was moved to go to the temple. He wasn’t planning on going, but he was attentive to the Spirit’s draw. He went, and his holy longings were realized.

Anna, the widow, was already in the temple when Simeon arrived. Always attentive to her desire to please God, she prayed and fasted in the temple day and night. When the Christ-child arrived, she told everyone who He was. She was precursor, and a mold, of evangelization.

You and Me

The common thread that binds the aforementioned cast of characters to recognizing Christ and His will for their lives is attentiveness. Can you imagine if any of them would have been more attentive to their own desires than God’s how this story would have played out? Would it have? They would have missed their God-given calling, and gift, to holiness.

This Christmas season, did the Spirit grant you the gift of attentiveness?

I pray that He did.

If not, it’s not too late.

Photo by Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash