Merry Christmas 2016, a year later
I have not been able to publish on this website since last year, but I am ready to try again and what a better opportunity than Christmas time! Recently France banned the TV advertisement of happy children with down syndrome considering it inappropriate (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/french-court-bans-tv-ad-showing-happy-kids-with-down-syndrome-58702/).
So, to answer such a ridiculous claim, I hope you will take 5 minutes to watch this beautiful rendering of Hallelujah by the Killard House School in Northern Ireland (a co-educational Controlled School providing for children and young people with additional special educational needs. These include Moderate Learning Difficulties, Speech and Language Difficulties and Autistic Spectrum Disorder.)
And if you have two more minutes, enjoy this Christmas reflection that a friend of mine recently wrote. Merry Christmas!
The reality of God is so much beyond our ability to perceive, but is inviting, and phantasmagorical, and terrifying, and .... and Jesus coming in the flesh is the focal point of the merging of sacred and profane, of spiritual and carnal, of celestial and mundane. His coming as a baby makes changing a diaper a sacred act, and nursing is apocalyptic.
That is why NO ONE got it. except the old "fools" in the temple, and the fetus John, and this little girl named Mary. She responded to the most incredible (un-credible) announcement by saying "Let it be done to your servant as you say" She became in that moment the embodiment of all human desire to be filled with God. As a direct result of her submitting to this miracle, she was rejected by her fiancé. Even though that got straightened out by angelic intervention, it had to have hurt. We can only imagine what it was like as she carried God in a growing belly, with the whispers and the accusations, culminating in the rejection by her new husband's whole home town. I am pretty sure they said something like "You are welcome Joseph, but that hussy will never stay under our roof!" Otherwise, why would "no room at the hotel" have even mattered?
If I was to pick a patron saint, it would be Joseph. He took care of a child not his own. As is the sad fact of men and women throughout history, the woman is biologically and then profoundly emotionally involved. Because there is the separation for the man, involvement requires choice. And all too often, that choice is made cynically, selfishly and un-righteously. In placing himself in the cuckold position, Joseph took on Mary's and Jesus's shame. In a patriarchal culture, he probably suffered abuse and ruin of reputation for being such a patsy. Can you imagine Joseph trying to explain that the baby was not his, but that that was OK? And in that he became the protector of God. A true kingdom protector. Strength as gentle. Strength as patient. Strength in uncertainty, that allows for Mystery. Strength that accepts humiliation. You see, humility by a weak being is just good protective strategy. But the kingdom needs more men of strength who can choose the humble path. With his strong carpenter hands, he chose to carry this child of his embarrassment, and entered into exile, and later into Jewish life, attending synagogue each Sabbath, and the temple every year, observing the law. In so doing, he exposed himself, with Mary and Jesus, to sideways glances, and whispers and snickering jokes. And He got to teach God how to saw lumber, and how to shape wood.
Those who have experienced the joy of sharing the wonder and delight of raising children together can imagine how they felt. When Mary and Joseph said yes to God, they became the antithesis of the world’s wisdom. And became closer to God than all of the rest of us. We want life to be a hallmark card type scene. But all too often, their closeness to God brought them humiliation and pain. And, in the part of the equation we sadly do not wait around to experience, their humiliation and pain brought them closer to God.