A lovely and imperative meditation on Christmas from America on The Terrifying First Christmas . The First Christmas, we tend to forget,
rattles a marriage. It exiles a family. It endangers lives. And it provokes a madman to murder. The brisk descriptions in the New Testament fail to capture what must have been, for Mary and Joseph and many others, a bewildering, terrifying ordeal.
I dont recall these scenes so we can relive them. I dont recall them to make Christmas feel like Good Friday. Our vocation is not to those trials. But the exile, the massacre, the uncertainty, they remind us that what we mark so gleefully and easily, what we express in lounging, food and song, had the effect of an earthquake in the lives of real people. The Light came, but not without a fight. The Light won, but not without cost.
We are two thousand years from first-century Palestine, but the Incarnation is not like the Civil War. It is not simply an event from which we draw lessons. The challenge for moderns is to see the dynamics of Palestine within the landscape of the human heart. Our inner life is one of clashing sects and regimes, of shaky alliances and diverse languages. A Herod hides in us all. So does a Pontius Pilate. And a St. Peter. And a Mary. At one time we are the moralizing Pharisees; at another, the ruling Romans. Christ today must enter this territory. Will we prepare him room?
Read the whole meditation .
Thanks to Mark Barrett’s Snug of the Pub for the lead.