“Our eyes are meant to look into the eyes of others. They were not made to look down at a virtual world that we hold in our hands, but to look up to heaven, to God, and to look into the eyes of those who live next to us.” Pope Francis
Have you noticed that computer screens are popping up everywhere? In subway cars, on gas pumps, and even in restrooms! You may be holding one right now. They give us advice, recipes, news, and advertising. It is difficult to escape from the screens that vie for our attention.
Attention is a precious gift. We give attention to what we believe is important. We value our work with our attention. We love people by giving them our undivided attention. We show our love for God by participating in the liturgy by attending to the ritual, prayers, and readings.
But, unfortunately, we are in a world which invites us to distraction. Despite our best intentions, we allow our attention to drift from the work we enjoy, the people in front of us, and participation in our worship. No wonder it is common for employees, spouses, and friends to report they feel no one hears them!
Christmas is a celebration of the Incarnation, God’s embodiment in human form. God raised our humanity to a sacrament in Jesus Christ, a sacrament of God’s presence. Therefore, we can celebrate Christmas by becoming more attentive to our prayers, actions, and neighbors.
Remembering that the embodied person is more important than the disembodied voice is essential today — whether that disembodied voice is a phone call, text, email, or post. So let’s use the holidays as an opportunity to give our undivided attention to all those embodied souls we meet and interact with daily. By retraining and redirecting our attention, let’s enter more deeply into our work, the lives of others, and our attentiveness at Mass. It is a Christmas gift that will give throughout the year.