As was said last week, the Christmas stories might not be true in all their details but they are True in the sense that they represent a very special intervention of God in the human condition, a revolution indeed because it revealed to us just how much God loves us, one that, as G.K. Chesterton said, turned the world upside down and, astonishingly, when viewed from that perspective the world made sense. God, in the words of the Irish Dominican poet, Paul Murray, loves us so much that if we should cease to exist, he would die of sadness.
The Christmas stories reveal to us that God loved Her human children so much that He took on human form so that he could show us how to live and how to die, even walking with us down to the valley of death itself. The stories today tell us that even from the beginning it was not easy to be the special light of the world. Jesus was under threat all his life. The threats would finally catch up with Him as they catch up with all of us. But from Christmas we learn that finally the darkness can never put out the light.
Fr. Greeley's Last Book:
Once upon a time there was this young man, Peter Patrick, who could hardly wait to go off to college. Starting half way through his junior year in high school, he decided that his family was ruining his life, almost every day. His father was a tyrant who didnít know what it was like to be a teenager. His mother was a crab. His younger sister was a spy. His younger brother like a total dork Ė and a nuisance too.
The summer before he want to college was sheer agony. Heíd learned in one of his classes that some guy Ė he thought it was probably a German Ė said that Hell is other people. The guy was certainly right. Hell in fact is your family especially when youíre young. So college began. It wasnít as much fun as Peter Patrick had expected. In fact, it wasnít any fun at all. He couldnít find the way to his classes, his adviser was never in, he didnít know where the mail boxes were, he didnít figure out how to get his laundry done. The food was terrible. The teachers were creeps. The other students were dorks. The women were stuck-up. Some of his fellow freshmen were drunk every night of the week. The dorm smelled of vomit all the time. There was never any quiet to study, even if he wanted to.
College, he finally admitted to himself, was a big mistake. Peter Patrick told his parents, when he called to ask for more money, that he loved it. College was great, college was wonderful. He wasnít sure he could make it till Thanksgiving. He told all his friends that he loved college. They replied that they did too. It was wonderful to be on your own. He didnít want to go back after Thanksgiving because Christmas was probably a couple of years away.
At Christmas he acted like he was condemned man at death row. Finally a girl he knew named Sheila said to him, Petey Pat, you hate college like we all do because thereís no one there who loves us like our families did. Donít try to fool me. Well, said Peter Patrick, what should I do? E-mail, said Sheila, who was very smart, that way you can talk to your parents and your siblings (she actually said siblings) every day. It will be almost like being home. So Peter Patrick got himself an e mail account and talked to his family every day. He said to Sheila the next time he saw her, the guy was wrong.
Hell isnít other people, Heaven is.
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
(cf. 1) Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
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