Several years ago, I was attending a meditation given by a priest shortly before Christmas. He mentioned that his favorite Christmas song was “The Little Drummer Boy.” Ever since then, I’ve listened to the words of that song more carefully and found in them some helpful points for my own reflection surrounding the birth of Jesus. I am happy to share some of those with you as we once again prepare to celebrate this joyful feast.
In the second verse, the drummer boy recognizes that he has “no gift to bring…that’s fit to give our King.” When it comes to Christmas, we spend a lot of time, energy, and money on gifts to give other people. This is a respectable tradition, but do we consider giving a gift to the one whose birthday is the reason for this great day? To be sure, the drummer boy has it right, recognizing that there is nothing that we can give Him that is fit for the Messiah. We know that God has no need of anything from us, and that can be a humbling thought. Even though He does not need us, He wants us. Otherwise, He would have given up on us after the sin of our first parents. Instead, He loves us so much that He wants us to share in the gifts He desires to shower upon us.
So, then, the question still remains – what can we give to this newborn King who has no need of anything that we can bring? Look at the next verse as the drummer boy looks at what little he has and asks the question – “Shall I play for you…on my drum?” Mary, His Mother, nods, and the drummer boy begins to play his drum for Jesus. I remember reading a commentary on this song and how the author noted how foolish it was of this boy. Why would you go banging a drum in front of a new baby? I think that thought misses the deeper point. In playing the drum, the boy is offering to Jesus what he has, humble as it may be, out of a sign of reverence for Him who is the Savior of the world. Note how he plays his drum, according to the song: “I played my best for Him.” The Lord has blessed each of us with gifts, humble as they may seem to us. We do not have to have extraordinary gifts in order to offer them to our God. What He wants is for us to use the gifts He has given to us as best we can as a sign of our gratitude for the giver of every gift that we have, the Lord Himself.
This Christmas, let us take some time to reflect on all of the gifts He has given to us, not worrying about what we lack or what other people have that might be more attractive than what we have. Then, let us bring them to the newborn baby and resolve to use them to the best of our ability each day and experience the same thing the drummer boy did: “Then He smiled at me.”
As a final thought, I would like to invite all of you to consider coming to the church at some point during this final week of preparation before Christmas. As you may know, we have Mass every day at 7 am and 5:15 pm. We also have Eucharistic Adoration from 4 pm – 5 pm on Tuesday and Thursday. You can also just stop in for a few quiet minutes during the day. Coming to Mass or making a visit to Our Lord in the church can be a very helpful way of preparing our hearts to experience the coming of Christ with greater joy and peace.