Behind everything there is a reason and a mystery. As we make our way through Advent toward the holy event of the birth of Jesus, we find the days and the world becoming darker. This year especially, the juxtaposition of Christmas and the gathering gloom descending upon the world is striking.
As bad as things have become, our hope remains firm. Jesus, the Light, came into the world and as we celebrate this event, let’s keep our focus on that Light. As we watch events unfold, it’s important to remember that we have more control than we think we do. None of us individually can do much to impact world events but we all play a role and an important one—to bring the Light to those around us.
Think of this, darkness cannot extinguish light, it’s a physical impossibility. Darkness is the absence of light. The smallest light can obliterate the darkness. We have the power and we need to claim it boldly.
The level of depression and anxiety in the world right now is the true pandemic. We are all feeling it to some extent. So, what can we do about it? Are we helpless victims until the tyrants relent? Shall we appease them in the hopes that they do? Hasn’t worked so far.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Spend time at the manger.
Christmas eve was likely a dark night, alone and cold in a stable, no room at the Inn, surrounded by animals in the humblest of surroundings. Fix your gaze on Jesus—the tiny Light, barely noticed, who would redeem this fallen and broken world. No one but the shepherds knew he was there. The answer to every prayer, to every longing of the human heart had entered the world—quietly.
2. Maintain silence every day.
The noise of the world, the tyrannical dictates coming at us with breakneck speed are meant to discourage and dishearten us. Tune it out, at least for a period of time every day. Ask God to speak to your heart and give you peace—that peace that surpasses understanding. Have you ever given that much thought—the peace that surpasses understanding? Sometimes the facts can be daunting and it can look very dark…but God’s peace transcends that. He has the solutions. He is the solution. Don’t wait for the facts to change to expect peace. God can give it to you right now, in the midst of the storm. Lean not to your own understanding. Lean on God.
3. Contemplate paradox.
God’s ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts. God thinks on a whole different level to which none of us can ever hope to aspire. He is God. We are not. And if we meditate on the mysteries of our faith, especially in the Rosary, so much of God’s wisdom is found in paradox. None of us would bring the God of all creation into this world as a helpless baby. Hanging on the cross in utter torment, looking weak and defeated, Jesus was the most powerful in that moment and brought about our redemption. Things are rarely as they seem in God’s economy. Same holds true now. Of course, things look bad right now, and objectively speaking they are, but God is in this whirlwind and will make all things right. Trust in that.
4. Gird your loins and stand strong.
The harder the devil pushes to discourage us, the more resolved we must be to resist and stand strong. The battle is already won ultimately. When things seem darkest, that’s the time to dig your heels in all the more.
Salvation is not in politics but in God alone. There may be heroes and figures we look to for help and some assuredly play a role in God’s unfolding plan…but, and this is important, it is God’s battle. There will be confusion and conflict. It will be hard to know who to trust and that trust may be disappointed at times. Do not give in to despair. This is God’s battle and He remains in control and has already won. Stand strong in faith in God alone.
5. Be. The. Light.
I can’t emphasize this enough. We must be the lights in the world right now. That may mean sharing information. That may mean taking on roles in politics or school boards. We are all called to different missions. But we all share this one thing—we must be the light of Christ. We must love, even those that are most challenging to love. We must speak truth in love, even when that makes us unpopular. We must know when to be silent, especially with those closest to us. Pray first before speaking. Sometimes you need to let God water the soil before you try to plant seeds.
As we gather, or don’t, with family and friends this year, be humble and kind. There are strong opinions on both sides of many issues these days. You may be rejected or unwelcome because you disagree or haven’t done what others expect of you. Bow out gracefully. Pray for those who persecute you. Your family and friends may, in your view, have taken the side of darkness…but they are not the problem. We’re all caught up in this mess…and fear can be a powerful influence that can make people do things they may never have imagined before. The devil has been very adept at manipulating fear to divide and conquer us. Don’t take the bait.
The devil will not go down without a fight. But Triumph is assured. It started when Mary said yes. As you contemplate that tiny infant, swaddled in the manger, hidden in that dark cold night, remember how that light changed the world then…and will show forth His glory now.
Wishing you all a most blessed and merry Christmas and new year.
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