As I was recently thinking about what to write for Christmas, I heard the incredible story of how on December 14th, just 11 days before Christmas, a woman, trapped in a burning Bronx apartment building, threw her one-month old infant out the window after praying "God, please save my son" and watched as an amateur baseball catcher caught and snatched the boy from certain death. "I prayed that someone would catch him and save his life" she would later say. Tracinda Fox, 30, turned to God in her moment of desperation and trusted that He would answer her if it was His Will. The infant, Eric Guzman, was caught by Felix Vazquez, 39, a Housing Authority Supervisor and catcher on his company's baseball team. "I did not think…I jut reacted" he would later say. Vazquez gave the child mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and the mother was eventually rescued by firefighters. Both mother and child were treated and released from the hospital. The more I thought about this incredible story, the more it became the best Christmas message one could hope for.
It All Begins With God and Prayer
First of all, this story reminds us that everything begins with God. Without a deep faith and devotion in our Lord Jesus Christ, we cannot hope to solve or deal with any problems we face, at least not effectively or in a way leading to our salvation. Yes, there may be a technological, an earthly, or a creative way to apparently solve or deal with the issues that face us daily, but no solution or strategy devoid of God will ever be a long-term answer. Furthermore, the best way to bring God into the equations that face us daily is to seek Him through prayer on a daily basis. No matter how simple or complex, all prayer is simply faith, trust, and devotion personified in humble speech and attitude. When it comes down to crunch time, when all the technology or creativity in the world will be too late, a simple act of humble faith and trust in God will be enough and, more often than not, that simple act of humble faith and trust begins with prayer!
God Is All The "Luck" We Need
There is no such thing as "luck" to the true believer of God. God is all the "luck" we will ever need! Leave luck to the fortune tellers, the dabblers in the occult, and the gamblers, most of whom wouldn't be in such straits if they truly believed in God. If luck is being at the right place at the right time, there is no better place and no better time than any place or time where God is welcomed in adoration, praise, and humbly petitioned, while the soul doing this is truly penitent. Hmmm, what better way than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which incorporates these four things?! In the final analysis, "luck" is the coin of the secular and the atheist and "faith" is the currency of those who look to God!
Faith Should Be an Instinct
Had Tracinda Fox called out for someone to catch her son and Felix Vazquez been aware that a baby was coming down, this story would have been one of heroic ability and good fortune. Instead, Fox prayed that someone would catch her baby and then just threw him out without warning anyone below of what was to occur. The fact that Felix reacted in a split second to catch the child turns this story from incredible to divine. There is no sensible reason why Felix should have been able to react so quickly and instinctively except for Divine Providence. It is almost as if God wanted this story to go beyond any earthly explanation and only be explainable in terms of God's intervention.
Just as heroics were an instinctual response by Felix, faith should be an instinctual response by us toward God. When it comes to following The Lord, we should act first and ask questions later. If you think about it, being a true follower of Christ is not about careful deliberation or planning but about spontaneous instinctual love. If we keep Christ's example in our hearts, we will know what to do at crunch time. If we do not keep that word within us, we will either ignore it or be caught fishing for it at the moment of truth. Being a follower of Christ means being prepared at a moment's notice to act on that commitment, not taking time to deliberate or negotiate on that commitment.
Both Ends of the Story
There have been and will continue to be times when we are called upon to be like Tracinda Fox. Faced with a daunting situation, we will need to call upon God and seek His help and protection in humble faith and devotion. We will have to throw many things we cherish out the window trusting that God knows what is best and has a purpose for all we do and face. We will be asked to believe that even those things that appear bleak or tragic have an ultimate purpose or role in life. Other times, we will be called upon to be Felix Vazquez, catching people in trouble or saving innocent lives by instinct toward God and not deliberation toward selfishness or personal agendas.
Saving The Unborn
The image of Christmas is of peaceful innocence given to this cold world as a gift from Heaven. Every day infants are thrown out the window of the womb toward certain death with no Felix to catch them. These innocent children are not thrown out in an attempt to save their lives, but in an effort to end their innocent lives. Many women act out of desperation or confusion fanned by the flames of evil and arrogant selfishness of the abortion lobby. Perhaps all they need is to know that there is someone out there ready to catch their baby, to give them an option to murder. We are each called on to stand out there ready to catch these rejected infants and save their lives. Perhaps it will be a word, a presence, a leaflet, or any other communication that may save an unborn life. We must try all of these measures and more. In January I will have several columns on this in commiserating the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Clueless Irony and Hypocrisy
I find it tragically ironic and even amusing that Mayor Bloomberg, long a friend of abortion and supporter of the murder of the unborn, should give an award to a man who saved an infant from death. Bloomberg called Felix a "real-life hero with hands of gold" even though he has helped line the hands of abortionists with gold by pushing to make abortion training mandatory for medical students and being a strong supporter of abortion. Bloomberg joked that he had kissed many babies but never caught one. Apart from the many babies he may have kissed, he certainly has contributed to killing many as well through his pro-abortion efforts! He is quite honest, however, in assuring us that he never caught a baby, since saving babies does not seem to be high on his agenda given his abortion stance. In giving Felix Vazquez The Bronze Medallion, the city's highest award for civic achievement, Bloomberg stated, 'Felix, a lot of amazing things have happened in New York, but I don't know that anyone has seen anything quite like this."
Yes, Mr. Mayor, a lot of amazing things have happened in the capital of abortion in America, but saving an infant's life is not as commonplace here as snuffing it out!
Let us recall that there is no coincidence with God, and it is no coincidence that a few days after The Patroness of The Unborn, Our Lady of Guadalupe, an innocent infant is saved by a selfless act of instinctual bravery in answer to an instinctual act of humble faith in the city where the most innocent infants are daily murdered by deliberate acts of cowardice and confusion in answer to premeditated acts of arrogant selfishness.
The Ultimate Christmas Message
Above and beyond all of the preceding themes and observations regarding this remarkable event, one finds the ultimate Christmas message.
In a world that everyday increasingly seeks to throw the Christ Child out the window to oblivion, we are called as true believers in Christ to stand firm and catch Him every time. Secular society is about throwing Christ out the window and true faith and devotion is about catching Him every time. The first Christmas saw many people reject that child, throwing Him out the window of their hearts and homes. Ultimately, the Divine Child was caught and embraced by the poor shepherds and peaceful animals in a stable and, later, by visitors from far away. Today we find that same rejection of Christ at His birth. Imagine if many people tried to call your birthday by every name other than your own. How would you feel? Imagine if people said that calling your birthday by your name was "offensive." How would you face such rejection?
Sadly, this lost world continues to be about rejecting and mocking Christ as it did in Bethlehem and Jerusalem 3 decades later. Sadly, there are many very eager to throw Christ out the windows of their souls, minds, and hearts. Ultimately, Christmas is about catching The Christ Child every single time with humble hands of devotion and instinctual faith. As Christ approaches, let us reach out ready to catch Him once again! I send you my warmest Christmas wishes and prayers this Christmas and all through the coming year. May you have a sure-fire errorless Christmas as you catch the true message of Christmas and turn to the One and Only Reason for the Season. That is the true "Christmas Spirit." Catch it!