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The Mystery of Humility, Hope and Peace


Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.” ~ G.K. Chesterton

During his Christmas Eve Angelus address on December 24th, 2000, Pope John Paul II invited those on hand to pause for a moment to contemplate the Grotto of Bethlehem. The King of the Universe, the future Saint would point out, did not even have what he would call the “indispensable minimum” which every family prepares in advance for a child’s birth and Mary and Joseph, for whom there was no room at the Inn, were obliged to seek shelter in a humble stable.

The manger would be the first cradle of the newborn child (Luke 2:7), the wood of which it was crafted foreshadowing the cross that would serve as his instrument of torture and death by way of crucifixion. That he would rest in a feeding trough would be a harbinger of the Holy Eucharist, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus upon which the faithful would feed, their food for the journey home to the Father’s Heavenly Kingdom as it were. Jesus entered the world poor so that we would love the poor and seek to serve them. His life was lived humbly so that we too would strive for humility, which would in turn give way to peace of mind, body and soul “Peace be with you.” These were the very words of Jesus, captured frequently throughout Scripture. It is his supreme desire for all.

Our world at times has seemingly ignored this angelic message of redemption and peace. As we wrap up the year 2021, far too many are riddled with despair and paralyzed by fear, much of it brought on by a virus with a 99.68% survival rate. We are mired, it would seem, in a perpetual feeling of hopelessness, for our gaze has been redirected away from the source of our hope. But make no mistake: God wants his works back. Of this there is no doubt. As the Prophet Isaiah foreshadows in today’s 1st Reading (Isaiah 9:1-6), Jesus desires to remove the yoke that burdens us, the “rod of our taskmaster,” whatever that taskmaster may be ~ anxiety, anguish, addiction, guilt and the like ~ and smash it, as on the day of Midian (9:3).

The Advent and Christmas Seasons rekindle our hope and expectation of a Savior who will visit us with the promise of salvation, reestablishing his Kingdom of justice and peace. Cardinal Ratzinger, the man who would go on to become Pope Benedict XVI, once remarked “The ultimate end of all New Testament liturgy and of all priestly ministry is to make the world as a whole a temple, a sacrificial offering to God. It brings the whole world into the Body of Christ
In the opening words of the 1st Reading chosen for the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass (Isaiah 62:1-5), the prophet Isaiah declares

“For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem‘s sake I will not be quiet.” Nor should we. Isaiah longed for vindication for his people, a vindication that “shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch” (62:1). Isaiah knew that God would be to his very simple but very powerful promise: Do not be afraid. I will be with you. In these words, God guarantees us his lasting and true peace.

May that peace be with you on this Christmas Eve and always, a peace rooted in humility and hope, as we await the final “tomorrow” when Jesus returns in his indescribable glory.

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