Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We Must Celebrate

Yes, there is a resurrection of the flesh. There is justice. There is an “undoing” of past suffering, a reparation that sets things aright. For this reason, faith in the Last Judgment is first and foremost hope—the need for which was made abundantly clear in the upheavals of recent centuries. I am convinced that the question of justice constitutes the essential argument, or in any case the strongest argument, in favor of faith in eternal life. The purely individual need for a fulfillment that is denied to us in this life, for an everlasting love that we await, is certainly an important motive for believing that man was made for eternity; but only in connection with the impossibility that the injustice of history should be the final word does the necessity for Christ's return and for new life become fully convincing.

Spe Salvi 43
Reflection – It’s always good, as we get ready to celebrate the Christmas feast on Sunday, that our looking back to the coming of the Christ child in Bethlehem 2000 years ago is also a looking forward to the final coming of Christ in glory.
Catherine Doherty found Christmas a painful time of year, often, precisely because of what the Pope is talking about here. The joy, the beauty, the promise of peace and love—all that we rightly associate with the child of Christmas—for her was sharply contrasted with children being bombed in Vietnam, starving in Biafra, shivering in the cold of the inner cities of America.
It is painful. The world goes its own way, ‘silent night’ notwithstanding. People are cruel to each other, and the poorest are the ones who inevitably pay the highest price of this cruelty. In Catherine’s day it was Vietnam, Cambodia, Northern Ireland. Today we look to Egypt, Syria, North Korea, Somalia. So many victims, so much suffering.
So if our Christmas feast does not in some fashion look to these suffering ones, there is something a bit unreal about it. Certainly this means that Christmas is a time for charity as well as (if not more than) consumption; but it also means Christmas is a time when, as we look to this Baby in the manger, so beautiful, so peaceful, we cry out to Him for all these other babies who are robbed of their peace—the ones torn to bits in the womb, the ones born into situations of desperation and great evil.
We cry for Him to come and complete the work He has begun. We do believe he has begun this work; we long for Him to come and finish it. It is this sense of incompletion, of a job not yet finished, of a world yet to be transformed by love and grace, that spurs us on both to actions of love and mercy, and to ceaseless prayer.
And in the midst of all this, we can celebrate, you know! We can eat turkey and sing carols and frolic as we wish. We must celebrate, or else the darkness will overcome the light in us, and that would be tragic.
And we can celebrate, because He came, you know. And because He came, no child, no baby anywhere in the world is truly left alone. He came for them, for us, for you, for me. And nothing is the same because He came, not really, not forever. And so, even in the dark and cold of the world as it is, we light candles and decorate our homes and laugh together at the feast.
Christ is born, and the world begins to be reborn in Him. This is joy, and this is hope.

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