Making Jesus smile

By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter

I have warm feelings whenever I hear the Christmas song “The Little Drummer Boy.” For those of you who have not seen this Christmas program, I will give you a quick synopsis. A young boy’s family is killed, and he is taken away to be sold at the appropriate time by a very nasty man. The man uses the boy’s ability to play the drum amongst other things to get money. He mistreats the child who lost his smile the day that his village was destroyed.

As they travel along, they meet up with three kings. These men are royalty and have in their possession precious gifts. They tell of the star and of their trip to see the “King of the Jews” who is to be born that very night. The man is basically a freeloader and good for nothing, so he decides to tag along to see what he may gain on this trip. Crazy things happen along the way, but finally they come to a lowly stable where a little baby boy is in his mother’s arms, if not in a manger full of hay.

The three kings bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, all of which were very costly in the time in which they were living. The little boy whose heart was so broken by the horrors that had come upon his family, found a tear running down his cheek as the kings humbly worshiped the king. His heart was warming up in the presence of Baby Jesus. He watches as all the other gifts are presented, and the frown returns to his face as he sees himself empty-handed with nothing to give. Suddenly he has an idea. “I’ll play my drum for him,” and so he does.

The words that accompany his little song go something like this:

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum. A newborn king to see, pa rum pum pum pum. Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum. To lay before the king, pa rum pum pum pum.

“I played my drum for him, pa rum pum pum pum. I played my best for him, pa rum pum pum pum

“Then, he smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum. Me and my drum.”

How often do disabled people find themselves in the position of the little drummer boy as it seems that we have no gift to bring and lay before the king? I look at my hands, hands that once played instruments, wrote sermon series, and were involved in all the festive activities of the season. All of this is gone for this season, and I am left standing before the king with nothing to bring him; that is, nothing but me.

Was it the drummer boy’s melody played on some worn-out handmade drum that was pleasing? Was it so grand and entertaining that it pleasured this newborn king? No, it was none of those things. What made this boy’s behavior not just acceptable but, perhaps, something worth imitating was the fact that he saw that he had nothing to give the king but himself. As he pounded out his little song, he gave it his best. He put his whole heart into it and it made little Jesus smile.

When I sit long enough in his presence, whether I am quiet or meditating on the Scriptures or even praising or worshiping him, I believe that I – like the little drummer boy – bring the only gift I have left to bring: wholehearted devotion and adoration to Jesus Christ. It might not seem like much to me or to others, but it is enough to make Jesus smile.

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.

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