This reflection was originally presented during the Advent Liturgy
December 18, 2020
Christmas Break, gentlemen. Here we are. Christmas time is a time of lists. You have your Christmas list, you have the list of the people to whom you want to give a gift, and there’s Santa’s naughty and nice list. You have the lists of Prep assignments and projects due before break; you have the lists of assignments and projects to do over break. And, of course, you have the ESPN lists—top 10 best plays of the year, and the not-top-10 plays of the year. The Grammys have the list of nominations out for Album of the Year or Best New Performer of The Year. The New York Times has the best books of the year. Time magazine has the list of most influential people of the year, and so on.
So in this season of lists, I am going to give you a list of things to do by New Year’s eve. I guess it’s kind of like a Christmas list of what I want from you, or what I want you to do. Here’s the list: Think, Write, Pray. Think Write Pray. Think Write Pray. I know this might sound confusing, but you got into Prep, so I know you’ll figure it out.
First, I want you to think about the top ten people for whom you are most grateful in 2020. Think about them and then write them down. It may be a parent, a coach, a teacher, brother, sister, a significant other. It may be a best friend. Write their names down. And then I challenge you to not just feel grateful. Find time to be grateful. Be intentional and reach out to them and say thank you, and do that a lot.
Second, think about your top ten moments, and then write them down. The moments that brought you consolation, the moments of which you were proud, the moments in which you were your best self. It could be academics, it could be athletics, it could be in a co-curricular. I challenge you to include times when you messed up and said you were sorry, times you owned a mistake and said, “That’s my fault,” or times when someone apologized to you and you said, “I forgive you,” or times when someone was hurting or sad and you reached out, or times when you heard a racial slur or a homophobic slur and you said, “That’s not right, don’t say that.”
Third, think about the top ten moments that made you laugh in 2020, and then write them down. The times that brought great smiles to your face, or made you laugh so much that you couldn’t control it—a laugh that hurt your belly or made you cry. My challenge on that one is to search for times you laughed at yourself, when you didn’t take yourself so seriously, when you smiled and reminded yourself that sometimes what you were worried about really wasn’t that important, the times when you opened your eyes to reality instead of being worried about perception and said, “I’ve got to slow my roll; it’s all good.”
Then, share these three top ten lists with your best friends, because that’s what best friends do. They share reflections, they share top ten lists, they let their guards down in front of each other.
So that’s the think and write parts. Now for the pray part. Just take a little time, even 30 seconds and say, “God, here are my three top 10 lists for the year. Thanks for the people, thanks for the moments, and thanks for the laughs.” God is listening, I promise.
I invite you to do that, and I promise I will do that as well.
Gentlemen, as I said, it’s the season of lists. But it’s also the Christmas season. So I close with words from Lucinda Franks, a Pulitzer Prize winner, who writes: “The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.” In my heart, I believe that you give us the glimpse of God’s perfect love. My hope for you is that you believe the same thing: that you are a glimpse of God’s perfect love.
May the joy of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, the worship of the wise men, and the peace of the Christ child be yours this Christmas.
I love you. Let’s go Prep!
Sub Umbra Petri,
Michael A. Gomez, Ed.D., ’91