Monday, January 5, 2009

"Peace on Earth! Good will to all!"

FRIAR'S CORNER, January 4, 2009:

I am often saddened at this time of year by how backwards our culture gets the celebration of Christmas. In our culture, we've been seeing Santa Clauses and Christmas trees since October. For far too many people, by the time we get to New Year's Day, Christmas is already long forgotten. The decorations are put away, the tree is out on the curb and we've moved on to the next big thing.

But for the Church, it is exactly the opposite. As you know, our decorations during Advent are distinctly different from Christmas. They are much more austere; the colors are different. The only dominant symbol during Advent is the wreath which we light each week. I always love the looks on everyones faces as the enter the Church on Christmas Eve and is such an explosion of light and color with all of our lighted trees, wreaths and pointsettias all over the place. For the Church, Christmas is such a big celebration that it takes more than a week. Christmas Season, or Christmastide as we call it, will last all the way until January 11th with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. In between we celebrate the Holy Family (as we did last Sunday) and the Epiphany as we do today. So, let us all pledge to ignore the rest of the world and allow ourselves to enjoy this Christmastide.

Of the many messages we hear each year at Christmas, the most powerful one is the message of peace. We hear in our Christmas Scriptures from the Prophet Isaiah, "For a child is born to us, a son is given us…His dominion is vast and forever peaceful." What a hopeful message for us, especially during these uncertain times in which we live. Christmas challenges us all to make this promised peace our most ardent hope and our deepest prayer. It is one that can only take hold in our world, however, if it first takes root in our hearts, in our lives, in our communities, our families, and our homes.
A favorite poet of mine is Maya Angelou. She penned a beautiful poem called, "Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem." I thought I would share an excerpt of that poem for our Christmas reflection on peace:

"In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.We listen carefully as it gathers strength.We hear a sweetness. The word is Peace.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come. Peace. Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,Implore you, to stay a while with us.So we may learn by your shimmering lightHow to look beyond complexion and see community.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus ChristInto the great religions of the world.We jubilate the precious advent of trust.We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.All the earth's tribes loosen their voicesTo celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortal's, Believers and Non-Believers,Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselvesAnd we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.Peace, My Brother. Peace, My Sister. Peace, My Soul."

I hope you all continue to embrace the fullness of this Christmastide and may peace reign in your hearts and in our world.

Love, Fr. Tom

1 comment:

  1. Hi father Tom,

    again you are so right! In here Finland our Lutheran tradition seems to stop Christmas celebrations on Christmas eve. Christmas carols and advent services before Christmas are very popular and Christmas eve mass. But only few go to church next days or even try to celebrate time of Christmas religiously.

    Time between Christmas day and New Years eve seems to be just a holiday and family season. Well, I think that there is nothing wrong to relax and spend time with family, but remembering the real meaning of this time would be important too.

    Thank you ftr. Tom for your inspiring and influential blog. Have a relaxing and joyful Christmastide and happy year MMIX.

    with all best

    rev. Henri