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Amahl and the Night Visitors

One of the most appealing Christmas stories is that of Amahl and the Night Visitors. You will remember that it is in an operatic setting by Menotti. The three wise men are on the way to Bethlehem, and they come to the home of a poor woman who has a little boy named Amahl. Amahl is crippled; he could not walk without a crutch.

One evening their humdrum existence was interrupted by a loud knocking at their door, and his mother said to Amahl, "Go see who is at the door." He went, and he came back and said, "Momma, a king is there." She lashed him with her tongue for exaggerating so much and sent him back to the door, and he came back the second time. He said, "There are two kings out there." He was in big trouble by then. So for a third time she sent him to the door, and he said, "Momma, there are three kings out there."

Eventually, after all kinds of conversation, the three wise men came in, and she was impressed with them, particularly with the gold they carried. She tried to steal some of that, but in all the uproar of her attempted theft, one of the wise men said to her, noticing her plight of need, "You can keep the gold. The babe we are going to worship does not need it." But she was caught up in the spirit of generosity by then, so she said, "I would never keep that gold. Take it to the baby king, and if I had anything to send myself, I would do it."

Then comes the most poignant moment of Amahl and the Night Visitors. Amahl, sensing what was happening all around him, sensing he had nothing at all to send but wanting to send something, decided, "I will send my crutch." The one thing that was indispensable to him, he was going to give away. So he lifted up his crutch and gave it to the wise men. He gave what he had; he gave it personally; he gave it completely. And then a miracle occurred. His mother noticed first that he could walk now. He could stand alone. He was healed. He did not limp anymore. "Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings"--it's true.

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