It’s been a rich Advent for me; an Advent that will end very soon now as we make way for the illuminating Christ.
One of the deepest revelations I’ve had these past weeks is how much I’ve taken this Christ thing for granted in my 43 years as a Christian. It is my fervent hope that from here on out I will never again fail to realize just how precious this faith of ours truly is.
There have been a few things that have led to this clarity. One has been listening to a friend describe her trip to the Holy Land and how beautiful but volatile the area is; how religious affiliations are posted on passports and could be the deciding factor on whether you make it back home, or finish college, or see your best friend again.
And then there have been things I’ve come across, like this article about the situation in North Korea from a Christian perspective. I’ve been blind to the atrocities, I’m afraid, yet many are suffering under an oppressive regime. In such a regime, there is no room for God, not to mention Christ.
In this article from Crosswalk.com, a work of university professor William Cavanaugh, Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church, is referenced. Cavanaugh explains the dangers of a government that absorbs its society into itself. North Korea, the reporter notes, is a picture of what happens when the state is full-grown and controls everything.
According to the article, Cavanuagh explains that in healthy societies, churches, voluntary organizations, political parties, and family are all intermediate associations that serve as buffers between the individual and the raw power of the state. “North Korea has eliminated all but the family. Yet even in the family, how much trust can there be if you can go to a concentration camp for something stupid your relative says or does? Better to disassociate even from family and trust no one.”
Imagine living in an environment in which you must disassociate from everyone dear to you in order to survive. There is no life in that that I can see.
Cavanaugh also points out that in North Korea, politics and economics are one. “…the state is deified, Caesar is God, and human freedom and dignity are crushed.” Meanwhile, the “dear leader” is getting drunk on liquor that costs hundreds of dollars a bottle. (How else can he live with himself, after all?)
So what does this have to do with Christ? Everything. For, as the article points out, “Advent reminds us of the coming of the eternal King who is Truth and in whom there is no shadow of falsehood. He came once in humility to shame the powerful in their lies. He comes today to rule over his people and to set us free with his Truth.”
Most of us have no idea how fortunate we are through our ability to embrace our God and live in the light of truth and love. When you are celebrating with your families this Christmas, I hope you will be mindful, as I am now, that being with family, no matter how imperfect they might be, is a supreme blessing. Welcoming and worshiping our Lord Jesus Christ with them? There’s nothing sweeter nor more important.
During his Wednesday address, the Pope said:
“Dear brothers and sisters, let us joyously live the feast of Christmas, which now draws near. Let us live this wondrous event: The Son of God again is born “today”; God is truly close to each one of us, and He wants to meet us — He wants to bring us to Himself. He is the true light, which dispels and dissolves the darkness enveloping our lives and mankind. Let us live the Lord’s birth by contemplating the path of God’s immense love, which raised us to Himself through the mystery of the incarnation, passion, death and resurrection of His Son, for — as St. Augustine affirms — “In [Christ] the divinity of the Only Begotten was made a partaker of our mortality, so that we might be made partakers of His immortality” (Letter 187,6,20: PL 33: 839-840).”
Jesus is coming! Don’t miss the significance of the arrival of this tiny babe. And please, if at all possible, have the merriest of Christmases!