12. The Power of Presence

For each of the 12 days of Christmas, I’ll review and fill out one of the12 Ways of Christmas” … 

When someone says he saw the Pope, we ask, “How close did you get?” John Paul II understood the power of presence, and so he set out to travel to as many places as he could. The year 2008 made Benedict’s pontificate “real” for many Americans because he was here.

I can remember being paralyzed with fright as a child after a nightmare and laying awake staring into the dark. Then I would hear my dad cough in his room, and the fear would disappear. Just knowing he was there — his mere presence — changed everything.

It’s the same after years of married life. It’s still important to talk and do special things, of course, but merely doing mundane things together is bonding. The presence of our spouse fills a void that we don’t notice until our spouse is away.

This 12th way, ultimately, is the most important “way of Christmas.” Christ was here. And, in the Eucharist, he is here. Just being in his presence makes him real, reassures, bonds us to him, and fills a void.

“12. God’s presence is enough. When God became man, he attracted the wise men, the king’s wrath, the shepherds, and, through the centuries, attracted throngs to the crèche. He can offer no words in his manger, but only his presence. In our own time, he still offers just his presence, and little else, in each church’s tabernacle. We should go to him there, spend time with him, and see how his bare presence is still quite enough. And then become his voices in the world.”

— Tom Hoopes

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Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, April 17, 2014.

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