There were four shopping days until Christmas. Anticipation was building at the mall. And it wasn’t the good kind. As soon as the mall opened at 8, there were people moving through the halls with an intensity fueled by coffee and the office white elephant gift competition. And in the late evening, when Nancy and I usually can find some space to walk, children who should have been doing homework were dragging parents from store to store.
It all made me a little cranky.
“That place should be sued for false advertising,” I said. Saint John looked where I was pointing. It was a greeting card shop. He looked back at me, one grey eyebrow raised.
“If you looked at the cards in there, you would find images of Christmas that are full of smiling families living together and laughing together and loving each other all the time. But the people we meet as we are walking aren’t laughing, especially this week.”
John laughed. “Around holidays, the worst always comes out. And there are no perfect families, where everyone believes the best and trusts each other. In fact, Jesus was human enough to be part of a family without them acknowledging who he was.”
We slowed down. There were three teens in our way. They looked like brothers. One was looking at a jewelry display. As we moved past them, we heard the comments: “I’m guessing what she really wants for Christmas is a new boyfriend, not a new necklace.”
“This one time, James and the rest of his brothers grabbed Jesus almost like that. They teased him about going to Jerusalem for the feast, to build his audience. At the time, they really didn’t understand who he was.”
“I’ve always thought that if we could really see Jesus,” I said, “we’d have an easier time believing him.”
John laughed. “Belief isn’t about the facts you see. It’s about the way you look at them.”