Christmas is celebrated because of Jesus Christ and not because of food, gifts, and drinking. That should be what Christians should think this season. “I have now disposed of all my property to my family,” Sir Patrick Henry once said. “There is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the Christian religion.”
Francis Bacon acclaimed: “There never was found in any age of the world, either philosopher or sect, or law, or discipline which did so highly exalt the public good as the Christian faith.”
Why is this so? “The radiant Christian is more concerned with carrying his cross than with complaining about his callouses. He remembers the harvests, not the hardships. He thinks about his friends, not his failures. He talks more about his blessings than his backaches, more about his opportunities than his operations,” William A. Ward answers.
As We celebrate Christmas, allow me to share this story, which happened in the United States. The first one is a true story shared to me by a Filipino couple who now lives in the United States. Once in a while, there are stories that touch your heart, your inner self, and your whole being. That’s what I felt when the wife shared the story of her husband, who was born to a poor family.
“When he was in high school, he contracted a very serious disease,” she said. “The disease was in a serious stage that caused my husband to be paralyzed from waist down. His parents, being so poor, could not afford to send him to a doctor or hospital.”
It so happened that there was this young doctor from a nearby town who traveled by car to his clinic in the same town where the poor family lived. One morning, the father patiently waited for the doctor’s car to pass by their house as it was situated on the town’s main road.
The father stopped the car and the doctor came out and learned about my son’s illness. The doctor suggested that the boy be brought to the hospital immediately for treatment. When the father told him that they cannot afford hospital expenses, the doctor volunteered to stop by their house each day before he proceeded to his clinic.
Every day, the doctor gave the boy injections and the medicines to take. “The doctor did this every day for several months until my husband was cured,” the wife said. “He did not charge a single centavo for the medications, injections and all of his services.”
Forty-five years later, the husband kept telling his wife how much he was indebted to this doctor who saved his life. “After recovering from his illness, my husband finished high school, went to an engineering school, and graduated as a mechanical engineer,” she recalled. “We met and got married and in 1974, we immigrated to the United States.”
Yes For 30 years, the couple have not gone back to the Philippines (although they are planning of going home soon). Her story continued: “Then one day, he wondered if this doctor is still alive and still practicing medicine. He would like very much to know if he could find a way to contact him so he could send his gratitude for saving his life.
“He searched the internet in hopes to get answers to his questions. Thanks to the advanced technology, he found out that this doctor is still alive and still practicing at the age of 79.”
It was Christmas season and he thought this was a good time to send the doctor a short thank you letter for saving his life. In his letter, he enclosed a check in amount of US$100.00 as a small gift. He wrote the doctor that although he may not need the money but just the same it would make the sender happy if the doctor accepted it as a token of his appreciation. He also invited him to come and visit them in Kansas City whenever he is travelling the United States.
Since then, they have been communicating with each other. Below are some excerpts of the doctor’s replies to the man’s letters:
On May 4, 2009, the doctor wrote: “It is truly heart-warming to be remembered by nice people like you who remember the little favors you have received. You belong to a very rare breed and there are not many like you in our age especially in this day and age where crass materialism and self-interest overrides humanity.”
In July of the same year, the doctor sent this note: “It is very heart-warming to receive a letter with enclosed check from you. It is not the check that matters but the beautiful thought that goes with it. In the 55 years of my life as a doctor, I have not had a patient as sincerely grateful as you although I took care of you about 45 years ago. I am indeed very appreciative for your remembering me as a humble MD who was able to minister to you when you were very ill. Your parents were very nice and simple people.”
On the 13th of November in 2009, the doctor shared this joy: “What I can say is that I’m blest to have a generous friend like you. The check you sent me is my biggest Christmas gift but what makes me happier is that you still remember me despite the years and distance.”
The wife noted: “The doctor also mentioned that my husband’s first letter and the first check he received were proudly shared with his staff at his clinic and that he framed the letter and the check. He and his staff were very touched.”
In another letter, the doctor wrote: “Someday, if health permits, I will try to travel to Missouri and would like to visit President Truman’s residence and library.”
Merry Christmas everyone.