The Light that Overcomes

I substitute teach in public schools and have for the past twelve years.  Yesterday, we had a lockdown.  This is a drill that schools practice in the event that a violent intruder enters the building. Students are ushered into safer places and doors are locked.  I looked at the students and thought, “This is the world they’re growing up in!”

Our prayers are with the victims of the terror attack in France.  We also pray for those who commit violent acts and for their eternal souls, as Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies.  This attack is being called the 9/11 of France and they will mourn this day as we do each year.  I often think of the people trapped in the Twin Towers — and I imagine there were many angels guiding and comforting them.  There was at least one “human” angel in Paris, the Muslim clerk who sheltered  Jewish shoppers from harm.

In January 1991, I was a high school senior taking midterms.  The US was engaged in the first Gulf War.   We were dropping bombs in Iraq and I remember thinking, “How can we go on taking tests as if everything were normal?”  The war only lasted a few days but many lives were destroyed.  We didn’t even discuss this in school!

Despite this, I consider the world I grew up in a more peaceful world than now.  Today the violence seems more frequent, drastic, and unpredictable.

While serving as a LAMP Missionary in Queens, Glenn was once accosted by a burglar who grabbed him and intended to do him harm and possibly kill him.  He was much stronger than Glenn, so all my husband could do was to call on the Holy Name… “In the name of Jesus, let me go!”  Indeed, that is what happened!

The power of the name of Jesus is a comfort in our world afflicted by so much violence.   As believers in the Prince of Peace, one of our tasks is to bring His peace, which comes from trust in His promises, to others.  Strength for this comes from poetic passages such as this;

“The eyes of the Lord are upon those who love him;  he is their mighty shield and strong support, a shelter from the heat, a shade from the noonday sun, a guard against stumbling, a help against falling.”   -Sirach 34:16

More and more, I reflect on the motto of the Christophers,* “It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”   Let’s ‘light candles,’ especially for our youth, as we rely on Jesus, who is the…

“…light that the darkness could not overcome.”  – John 1:5

 

 

* Inspirational Christopher News Notes are available on request

Merry Christmas Forever!

Merry Christmas!

In January, this rings hollow, doesn’t it?  It shouldn’t, though.  The Church tells us that the Christmas season continues until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 11.  However, the rest of society (and the tree that our neighbor unceremoniously dumped outside on the 26th}, tells us that it is over.

Here’s the thing, though. Christmas is never over!

When Jesus was born into the world, a new era began.  Everything changed.  The reign of darkness had come to an end, and the Light illuminated a once dreary landscape.  Hearts open to grace could now rejoice and rejoice fully, for Hope had broken into a world sick with despair and emptiness.  The Day of the Lord had arrived!

Seven centuries before the birth of Christ, Isaiah proclaimed;

“Rejoice heartily in the Lord.  In my God, is the joy of my soul.” – 61:10

When I first heard this, really heard this, it was the third Sunday of Advent, for it was a verse from the first reading.  Maeve and I thought that the verse was worth further reflection, so we memorized it and made it part of our shared prayer.  We even inserted it into our Christmas newsletter.

Is God really the joy of my soul?  Or do I take joy in lesser realities? The answer to both is “yes.”  Yet, the difference between the two could hardly be greater.

When my happiness comes from the world – sensual pleasures for instance – it is fleeting, shallow, and soon forgotten.

When joy comes from God, what courses through me has an essentially timeless feel and spills over into an intense expectation. The expectation is that the joy I’m experiencing will be endless, boundless, and complete.  In the center of my being, I know that one day I will be engaged in this… ecstatic dance forever.

All it takes is  dying, as St. Paul wrote;

“If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. ”          -Romans 6:8

The ending of the Prayer of St. Francis is;

“It is in dying that we are born into eternal life.”

Jesus was born so that we could be born into eternal life.  Why wait until the next life?  It all starts now, right now, as we “rejoice heartily in the Lord.”

Merry Christmas…..forever!