Monday, December 24, 2012
Silent Night, Holy Night
This holy night is one of the greatest joy, hope and peace, for on this night Jesus our Savior was born to Mary. We have every right to celebrate with outrageous joy, as we contemplate the implications of Jesus deliberately choosing to share our humanity to the fullest.
Yet, all of history and more recent tragic events remind us that many this Christmas are likely experiencing, not joy or hope or peace, but only grief, brokenness, loss, emptiness. I'm thinking particularly of the families, friends, and community of the 28 people who died last week in Newtown, CT. As St. Teresia Benedicta of the Cross, martyred at Auschwitz in 1942 reminds us in her beautiful treatise, The Mystery of Christmas, the shadow of the Cross looms over the Crib, as we liturgically celebrate the martyrdoms of St. Stephen and the Holy Innocents in the immediate wake of the Nativity of Jesus.
Oliver Treanor, in his book Seven Bells to Bethlehem: the O Antiphons, spells it out: "Nativity is in service of Holy Week and Easter-tide. Christ was born to suffer and to die. His birth is the prelude to his death, just as his crucifixion is the prelude to his glorification. The mystery we are dealing with is not fragmented. It is one. The fact that the secular celebration of Christmas is often devoid of any reference to Good Friday or the resurrection is perhaps why people frequently complain about the over-commercialization of the Christian feast. Are they not (rightly) reacting to the anomaly of a world that contradicts the holy purpose of the festivities by gross indifference to the spiritual values it announces? Once the shadow of the cross is excluded from the illumination of the crib, such indifference is actually inevitable."