Dec 25, 2016

Christmas


Throughout the years, there has been a lot of imaginative and creative thinking about what it would be like if our planet were to be visited by a life beyond the stars.


We often think that such an encounter would surely be on a terrifying, gigantic scale. One can easily imagine hug mothership breaking through the heavens and appearing right before us like a mighty fortified battleship, shining in power, fully operational.  


What are its intentions? How can we communicate with it? Could it, that any moment unleashing its destructive power? It speaks the language of strength and domination. Our response would naturally be overwhelming fear, panic, dread.


But this will not be how the battle between good and evil, light and darkness, begins. This is not how the God of the universe arrives. Instead, we can imagine that God comes like a little message in a bottle, slowly, carefully pushed by a gentle tide up onto a sandy beach, and found by a curious young girl who was dancing casually in the shallow pools collecting sea shells. God arrives into our world, quietly, discreetly, small.


To put this into perspective, yesterday when I went to find a last minute Christmas gift for a family friend, when a shopkeeper who saw me in my priest collar verbally attacked me from every angle, through insults about the Pope, the Catholic Church, priests.  Then came a barrage of memorized Scripture verses thrown at me in rapid fire -it was holy mud slinging!


It could have got very messy. Some might say that the shopkeeper would have been no match for this Irishman! But actually, for me it had already a very long day, visiting parish homebound for Christmas, and, because of the ferocious winds we had yesterday with dust and dirt everywhere, my sinuses were playing up big time - I was actually too tired and too weak to fight back or defend myself.  All I could do was put my finger over my lips and say “Shhhhh.  Please… Peace”.  


I later thought to myself, on my way home, that maybe the poor shopkeeper was not really trying to pick a fight - but instead, he was crying out from the depth of a deep wound. Maybe, he could only manage his pain with fear, anger, control, paranoia, seeing conspiracies where there were none.


This is far from the picture of God painted for us in Bethlehem. Like the innocent up and down wonderings of a ladybug on our fingers and then a quick nudge into the air to see it catch the breeze - God comes to us. God is embodied in a baby, the smallest, most vulnerable, most defenseless member of our human family.  Why? So that no one would be afraid to approach him. “Come closer”, Mary says, “He doesn't bite! Shhhhh. Hush. Gently gently”.

Peace is Christ’s gift to this crazy and loud world.  May God’s gentle peace be yours this Christmas time, and may nothing or nobody ever disturb you or distract you from what God has already promised to the peacemakers of this world. Blessed are the peacemakers.

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