Several years ago I got a job working for a large retailer for the Christmas holiday. I had been a stay at home mom up until then. I was in for a rude awakening.
When I was hired, I was given a half-inch thick cluster of papers on how this company could not discriminate against any religious practices. As I held it in my hand, I told the woman that did the schedules when I needed to be off so I could attend Mass. She looked at me in total amazement and said, "If every one was allowed to attend church on Sunday, no one would be in the store!"
I should have left right then and there, but I didn't.
I dutifully showed up for work and adjusted my schedule to go to church when I could. But it was difficult. I would look at the clock while I was at work, knowing that Mass was starting and that I couldn't participate in my ministry and be with the people that I loved. It broke my heart.
I was laid off after the holidays. I viewed it as a failure to a certain extent, but I soon found another job. When asked about my availability, I blurted out that my faith, my ministry and my church came first. The woman who hired me, smiled and said, "No problem!" And it's been that way ever since.
With Christmas fast approaching we often lose sight of why we're celebrating in the first place. I love the holiday, I love the shopping, and I usually do lose sight of it's real meaning. And then I think about that job and how I felt staring at that clock. I still get emotional thinking about it because I think Jesus doesn't want me to ever forget why we celebrate.