December 25th: Saint Jarlath (Iarlaithe mac Loga)
Serve Where You are Stranded and Broken
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
The first Christmas Day began as a small calamity. By the time Joseph and Mary arrived at Bethlehem for the required Roman census, the inns were full, and Joseph and the fully pregnant Mary ended up in the stables. Here the Son of God was born, and here the greatest epic drama-tragi-comedy in history began. The small family was stranded in a place away from home, and in their most vulnerable position were holed up with the cattle lowing and the sheep bleating. It is from this place that God begins HIs most incredible – even tangible – act of service to humanity. The greatest expression of God’s love begins from a stranded, confusing, and lowly position.
December 25th is the day we commemorate the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, but it is also one of three listed feast days for the Irish Saint, Iarlaithe mac Loga (aka Saint Jarlath). Iarlaithe was an early Irish priest and scholar, and student of one of the disciples of Patrick. In his old age, one of his students, the notable Saint Brendan, advised him by prophecy to travel in a new chariot and do not stop until the wheel breaks. There Iarlaithe mac Loga would find a new location for his “resurrection.” He traveled only a short distance, and the shaft of his chariot wheel broke, and Iarlaithe established his monastic school there at Tuam. In the place Iarlaithe mac Loga broke down he found the most remarkable location of his life in ministry.
Prayer: Lord, help me serve You from where I am. From my stranded and sometimes broken position I lift my hands in prayer, and call out for your resurrection power to strengthen me. I come as the needy infant. I come as the stranded old man. I come as the weak and impoverished one that I am, and I ask for your grace to guide me.
The window is the stained glass window of Saint Jartlath (Iarlaithe mac Loga) in Tuam.