Editor’s Note: Margaret Carney, OSF, is a member of the FMS Board of Directors and served as the 20th President of St. Bonaventure University, a position she held from 2004 until 2016. Speaking to the difficult realities of a pandemic Christmastide, Sr. Margaret invites readers to find truth and goodness in the heroic acts of countless women and men, both seen and unseen.

As the darkness of winter deepens, the darkness of tragedy in our nation deepens in more frightening ways. We now hear daily death tolls that match those of 9/11—a day of losses that seared our hearts in ways that we could barely describe.

Now, we seem literally at a loss for words or for explanations. The death toll is not the only count that hurts, that stuns us. How many days have we heard that the United States Congress has once again failed to find a way to send relief to countless individuals and families facing hunger, eviction, bankruptcy?

How many times have you started a conversation with the words, “Can you believe….” because the topic you want to discuss  defies understanding or rational explanation?

Into this darkness–this sense of being captured in a web of cruelty and capricious acts–thunders the prophet. “He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted….”(Is:6:1-2).

Perhaps, through the years,  we have mistakenly thought  that this promise was being kept even if we were not sure how. In this year, it is pretty hard to believe that the promise still has meaning. But, what if the promise really means that, in ways large and small, grace is moving countless individuals to heroic acts, and countless more to acts that are unseen and unheralded? 

We must be willing to look hard into the dark to see those smaller points of light: the workers in food pantries; the nurses traveling the country to fill in; the donors propping up charities whose reserves are giving out; the owners and bosses working to keep their employees afloat. If glad tidings and healing help are not issuing from the seats of power, they are plentiful among the lowly and ordinary people of the land. Maybe that is the Gospel’s really good news this season. Mary told us “He has lifted up the lowly.” Let’s hold on to that light of lifted hearts and hands. Let us do our lowly best to help.

Reflection question: What can doing “your lowly best to help” look like in your life at this time? Who are the prophets of our day that inspire and give you courage to persevere?