Chronicles in Ordinary Time 62: Where is the Hope?

While I occasionally go through and reply to comments I receive, I don’t reply to every one of them. It’s possible that many of the comments I receive are well-crafted spam; my hope is that the ones from ad-generating sites are sincere; and that the sender has taken a break from generating ads to reading stuff  that I write.

Thank you for your comments, even if I don’t reply to them. My hope is that my writing is an encouragement to people who think about the same stuff I do; and who go through similar challenges. This life is too difficult to go through on one’s own.


angel.grief_mjIn the 1890s, noted American sculptor, William Wetmore Story, created
the Angel of Grief monument for the future grave site of he and his wife in Rome’s Protestant Cemetery.  A number of replicas of the Angel of Grief—also referred to as the Weeping Angel—can be seen around the country in various
cemeteries.

I know, a dreary image for Christmas Day…

I was reading yesterday about Christmas in Baghdad. Before we invaded Iraq, Christians, Jews and Muslims all celebrated the time of Chanukah and Christmas. They may have lived under a dictatorship, but they felt protected. During this season of Christmas, children ask their parents whether Santa will be able to find them, now that they have fled their homes…

“In 2003, when the Americans invaded, there were an estimated 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq. Today, experts say, there are fewer than 400,000, many of them on the run from the Islamic State.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/25/world/middleeast/iraq-christians-ousted-by-isis-celebrate-christmas.html?_r=1

Saint Nicholas does not forget the children of War; even though it must seem like it. Children mostly live in the present; the past and future are somewhat vague.

I believe it is important to realize at this time in our lives, that Mary and Joseph had been on the run from a King who was killing babies, when they found themselves at the manger in Bethlehem. A time probably similar to today, when viewed from outside of America.

Are we thankful today, in America, that our cities aren’t overrun by the horrors of war? Or do we expect that freedom from war is our birthright?

Do we in America realize that we are the cause, or major contributors, of many of the wars fought in other countries over the last 50+ years? Today, children are being killed by American drone strikes.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. [John 1:9-13]

Joseph and Mary were given information by an angel about the unplanned child that was to be born. Shepherds and more angels arrived to confirm the identity of the baby. In time, astrologers from the East confirmed the story again. The Light had come into the world.

And then we hear nothing about Emmanuel—God With Us—for something like 30 years. We hear that as a pre-teen, Jesus [God With Us] spent a lot of time in the Temple once, astounding the religious leaders of the day. There are stories about events during His life, but they haven’t been adopted into the Protestant Canon. One day Jesus arrived at the Jordan River, near the town of Bethany, where John the Baptist was baptizing followers of the Lord. John identified Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of God. Jesus knew He was the Sacrificial Lamb from the beginning of His ministry, probably from before that time.

I have to admit, I’ve lived in a metropolitan city for most of my life; the concept of ‘sacrificial lamb’ doesn’t have a lot of personal meaning for me. I buy meat from the store; we no longer make sacrifices of animals to show reverence. However, there seems to be a sense of justice running through us that says ‘crime requires punishment’.

Jesus was not a Christian, He was Jewish. Most of His followers were Jewish. Jesus said that He hadn’t come to start a new religion; He’d come to heal the broken-hearted, the wounded, the ones who knew they weren’t sufficient on their own. He taught for three years, He was crucified, died and was buried. Three days later He rose again from the dead; and said that we too could rise from death.

Jesus’ followers, after Jesus had gone, were Jewish. Eventually they had to deal with the Gentile Problem. People were coming to hear about Jesus, and they weren’t Jewish; it was decided that the Gentiles did not have to become Jewish in order to follow Jesus, and did not have to follow all of the Jewish laws. This concept worked for something like 300 years; and then an Emperor made Christianity the official religion of his Empire. Things started getting messed up.

The Creator knew that The Church would change radically over the centuries, and that the presence of the Holy Spirit would be sufficient. We are not saved by Christianity. We are saved by the act of the Creator on the cross. Jesus did not claim to be a great moral teacher; Jesus claimed to be the Creator of the Universe. He either was the Creator of the Universe, or He was a lunatic. Or He was one of the most inventive and persistent stories ever made up.

Hope.

Theological debates abound over the nature of God and the Universe; I have my own heretical ideas.

I believe the eternal and infinite Creator of Universe became Man to give hope to the human race. We have a Creator that knows our weakness, who knows our insanity, who knows our greed.

The Creator of the Universe endured all that humans could do to demean the soul and the Spirit; and as He died on the Cross, He said, “It is finished.” All that was Needed was Done. The Gospels state that when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, waiting for His betrayal, “an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him…being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” [Luke 22:43,44]

I am of the opinion that Jesus was given, in the Garden, the foreknowledge of all of the hatred and cruelty that would be done ‘in his name’ through the centuries that would follow; and this caused Him the anguish that only the Creator of mankind, in all its Grace, could feel. A human being can only sustain a certain amount of mental anguish without breaking; I am of the opinion that He only knew the True Significance of His impact on history at the end.

The Creator of the Universe has a vision for the human race that is so huge that He was willing to endure death on a Cross in order for an idea to get planted in the hearts and minds of Jesus’ followers.

The idea that the walls that divide people can come down; that people can make peace. The idea that Light had come into a very dark world; and that all who receive this Light can become children of God.

“…That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

tree

 

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