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Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M., The Christophers’ Board of Directors

God’s Finger on a Man’s Shoulder

At the start of one particular Christmas season many years ago, Father James Keller, M.M., founder of The Christophers, wrote an article entitled “God’s Finger on a Man’s Shoulder.” He took the title for his article from a line by British novelist Charles Morgan, who once said, “There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved: It is God’s finger on a man’s shoulder.”

                Father Keller’s Christmas message invites us to consider the surprise of love that comes to us through the birth of Christ and the gift of peace it brings to our hearts. He writes, “Almighty God has placed in your hand a share of His peace. He expects you to keep a bit of it for yourself. But the rest of it is intended for everybody, for the world. And according to His divine plan, He sends that peace to others through you and millions of others like you.”

                This realization that God wishes to work through us to bring peace into the world is a call to action, as Father Keller says, “Here, then, is the sublime commission that has been given to each of us. The challenge is breathtaking: to take Christ’s peace into our hearts and our homes, so that it will radiate from there to every part of the world.”  

                Christmas is a wonderful time of year to strengthen our relationships and cultivate a spirit of love and peace within the family. We decorate our homes to bring a sense of warmth and cheer; we take time to gather with one another in worship and celebration; we exchange gifts to show how much we care; and in doing these things we build each other up to have the courage to share the peace of Christ with the world around us.

                Father Keller encourages us to channel our Christmas joy into every aspect of our lives so that we may become people of action, surprising others, even strangers, with our love, bringing a cooperative spirit into the workplace, and reaching out to our enemies to demonstrate that love rules our hearts. Father Keller says that love itself creates an inner power, writing, “The more you use it, the more it will grow. Life will take on new meaning. You will become more approachable. And you will understand why all people want to be truly loved, not just tolerated.”

                Father Keller’s Christmas message remains as relevant now as it has ever been because the world needs us to act on the gift of Christ’s peace. There is so much personal turmoil that can only begin to heal when the peace of Christ enters people’s lives, and we have the power to offer a glimpse of that peace through the way we interact with those we encounter.

“God’s Finger on a Man’s Shoulder” begins and ends with a reflection on the phrase “Merry Christmas,” which we share so often during this time of year. He notes that it’s a phrase that can have a profound effect on others when we live in a way to demonstrate we really mean it. So let’s be people of action this Christmas season, surprising others with our love and sharing Christ’s gift of peace, and we will begin to see the world around us transformed. Father Keller concludes, “Your ‘Merry Christmas’ will have a greater meaning than ever before, and this Christmas may be the most significant period in your life.”

 

 

For free copies of the Christopher News Note EMBRACING THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org