First Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98
Second Reading: Titus 2:11-14
Gospel: Luke 2:1-14
Over the past month, there has been so much hype about the so-called Mayan Prophecy─ so much speculation on whether the Mayans got it right or wrong or is modern science smarter than so-called primitive superstition. Then there are people who wish to eliminate the religious aspects of Christmas and emphasize the more generalized and I might add, commercial, aspect. What the Mayan calendar represents is a religious cycle─ a cycle’s end always precedes a new beginning. For us, Advent and the season of Christmas are the beginning parts of our Christian religious cycle. When we eliminate the religious aspects of a people’s culture, we eliminate meaning.
In a very real sense, a loss of meaning is darkness. We can see this all around us in our world today. Our government rushing bills through that do great harm to people as well as the environment; wars raging in many parts of the world; business interests being considered more important than people or the environment; the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches fracturing over issues of inclusiveness. But our first reading tells us, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.” What is that light? It is the light of remembering that our Creator is with us, calling us to cooperation in working together for justice and cooperation rather than conquest in prayer. God is calling us to see our oneness, that our oneness is an outgrowth and sharing in the oneness of God. We saw this with the Occupy Movements, in the nationwide solidarity with the Quebec Students and with the demonstrations that have been taking place in solidarity with our First Nations relatives, like the one some of us were at today. These are examples which show that, deep down, we know that we are one, just as our Creator God, is One. Connection, relationships, compassion, cooperation, is the light that God inspires us to reflect onto the darkness.
Advent is a time where we can open our hearts and minds─ and bridge the gap between them. It is a time to renew our commitment to the “Yes” of willingness to carry Jesus in our hearts and to recognize that all our relations also have the Divine Spark. I believe that if we can truly think of all our relations in this way, it will help us to forgive some of the perpetrators of the injustices they impose. For example, my Dad was an irresponsible and immature man, who I only saw occasionally. As a child, I was deeply hurt by this but I didn’t love him any less. As an adult, I don’t condone his behaviour but I still don’t love him any less. So as Christ grows to term within us, we learn to love Harper, Kenney, Pope Benedict XVI, and so on; although we don’t condone what they do. In fact loving them includes working to oppose and correct their injustices. Why? Because to assist or to do nothing when someone you love is doing wrong is unloving. More importantly, to do nothing in the face of injustice is to be complicit with the injustice and against our loving Creator, who is Justice.
The Gospel tells us that Joseph took the expectant Mary to register for the census. And that, when the time came for her to deliver her child, she gave birth to her firstborn son and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Now, if I continue the metaphor of ourselves as Mary carrying Jesus within us─ and─ return to the issue of generalizing Christmas so as not to be offensive to other faiths, I think there is a better solution. The world would be richer if we found room in the inn of our hearts to recognize and celebrate the times of spiritual significance to other traditions. As Christians, we believe that God became human in Jesus─ some believe to redeem our sins─ I believe he came to teach us how to live, how to be. Perhaps, if we learned more about the religious customs of our relatives; we would be less able to render them primitive and therefore unable to think of them in an anachronistic way. Perhaps we would see that Jesus, like many of our indigenous relatives, did not intend us to separate our lives into the religious and the secular, and therefore, we would be able to see the problematic in going to church every Sunday while unrepentantly and repeatedly cheating and/or oppressing our neighbours from Monday to Saturday.
The point is when we believe that part of the mission of the Messiah is, like today’s second reading says, to cleanse a people to be Christ’s own, eager to do what is right and when we truly believe that Christmas is a reminder of Emmanuel, God is with us then on Christmas if we let Christ come to term and be born in our hearts, we would realize, that, is only the beginning. The Christ Child within us must be nurtured so that we ourselves can grow into collaborators with and for Christ as Wonderful Counsellors, Protectors, and Champions of Peace!