Hard But Peaceful

They that hope in the Lord will soar as with eagles’ wings. (Isaiah 40:31)

Let’s freely acknowledge that the coming of Christ has not made things easier for us. Yes, He said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” But we can hardly maintain that believing in the Incarnation of God, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin—we can hardly claim that believing in that is easier than just ignoring it, like a lot of people do.

Ignoring Christ means maintaining a smaller and more comfortable frame of reference in life. Ignoring this particular baby means that God, if He exists, more or less leaves us alone to watch Dancing with the Stars undisturbed.

El Greco NativityOn the other hand, believing that God became a man; that the Father has revealed Himself to us by sending His eternal Word to live among us, as one of us—believing in Christ means life involves fundamental realities that extend way beyond what we can imagine. It means that God’s light shines so bright in this world that, for now, it blinds us and leaves us mostly in the dark.

The eagles’ wings on which we soar: Pure faith. Mary’s baby grew up, and He trusted in His heavenly Father all the way to Calvary hill. The divine Child in Whom we believe, with festive Christmas cheer—He died in agony, holding fast to the hope of a kingdom that lies on the other side of the darkness of the grave.

How can we claim that it is easy to base our entire lives on the promise of a crucified carpenter Whom–when He walked the earth two long millennia ago–most people simply ignored? Ignoring Him has been quite popular from the very beginning.

So: Easy? No. But: Do we find true rest, even in the utter darkness of faith—faith in the unfathomable Trinity and the ineffable Incarnation? Yes, we do find true rest there.

We soar on eagles’ wings when we acknowledge:

Okay, yes. Our Christian faith answers a few questions and then leaves a lot more questions wide, wide open.

But: To believe that life is fundamentally beautiful; to believe that love and tenderness touch God, because God has touched us with love and tenderness; to believe that honesty and truth really do bring their own reward, in the end: there’s peace in that cloud of faith—a peace unlike any we can find anywhere else.

Comfort for Little Ones

It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost. (Matthew 18:14)

sheepFirst, let’s raise our hands to make it perfectly clear that we certainly do consider ourselves “little ones.”

Gamboling little sheep with little brains.

We acknowledge that we are highly prone to disorientation. And, once disoriented, we find ourselves utterly defenseless.

So: Yes, we see that we are very small and shaky, Lord. As the prophet Isaiah put it: We are like grass that can and will wilt.

Second, let’s rejoice in knowing the will of our heavenly Father.

Our first reading at Holy Mass today paints the grand picture: “A rugged land shall be made plain, the rough country, a broad valley.” The Lord comes with power to gather his lambs, and He leads his ewes with care. He makes it possible for us little lambs to travel to the holy mountain.

The good God has a kind heart. He wills our salvation, not our demise. He intervenes to help us elude the wolves. By using these lovely pastoral metaphors, the Son of God has revealed the secret center of everything. The secret center of everything is: God’s tender love.