It’s still dreary out but there’s a sense of religious joy that punctuates the somber atmosphere that is almost palpable. Even the sandhill cranes croaking in the winter gloom are somehow crying forth in their own way a hymn of longing and joy to the coming Redeemer who will take away death, decay and suffering even from lowly animals.
At Lauds the Antiphons, psalms and hymns were masterful, pointing to the coming of our Lord at Bethehem in the flesh as a small child but also as a King in glory at the end of history.
Today, when there is so much evil in the world it can be hard to hold on and take these Antiphons to heart but as Christians we must. Our Lord came in the flesh amongst us and suffered everything we suffer save for sin. He is in perfect solidarity with us, both as individuals and collectively. All of our pain and sorrow is something that He fully understands:
“We know that an inter-communication exists from person to person; it’s a fact that according to the extent that they bear them, the burdens, pains and joys of others pass from one to another in a mystical way. It’s a fact that one can feel all the moods of others, receiving them into himself, or penetrating them. A person, by the sensitivity of love, is able to know and to understand his neighbor, and can be burdened with the living of all his experiences. How much more can Jesus do this, the loftiest man, the man perfect in love, for His neighbor. He is one who has a perfect freedom from sin, therefore from egotism and indifference. This gives Him a unique sensitivity. He is close to everyone; He comprehends with supreme subtlety what is in everyone, and also takes part generously and without sin in the beating of every heart. He shares everyone’s fondest hopes and his struggles against evil and He strengthens him.”
page 61-62. Father Dumitru Staniloae. Orthodox Spirituality, STS Press 2003
This passage is something that has constantly come back to me ever since I read it. It’s a profound piece about just who Jesus Christ is and how close He is to us. Read it, pray about it, meditate on it. Don’t lose heart this Christmas.
This is my message, especially for Christians who are living amongst the violence and evil of Islam in places like Iraq, Syria and Nigeria. Jesus Christ is with you. The worst they can do is kill your body but they cannot take your faith or your souls. Christ is with you. He comes mystically to the cave at Christmas time, but He will come in glory someday. You as the baptized are truly sons of God and heirs of eternal life. Rejoice in your King and keep your hearts at peace in the knowledge that He will come again and right every wrong.