A Cancer We Can Cure

(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Mass-Blog-for-the-Octave-of-Christmas-2023.mp3)

Silent Night is one of our most beautiful Christmas songs. It’s as solemn as the solemnity we ascribe to its heroin, Mary—the mother of God.  But if we stay silent about the events of that night, such silence like a cancer grows, as Paul Simon wrote in his “Sound of Silence.” In that song, Simon lamented humanity’s inability or unwillingness to communicate.

The peace and holiness of that silent night was made possible by the solemn yes Mary gave God’s angel about the savior she would bring into this world. Even Mary would be touched by how her yes would resound in the hearts of the spiritually hungry surrounding her. They would respond by harvesting and sharing the fruit from her Holy Family tree. For them, Jesus’s sacred heart would become an echo chamber that wouldn’t let them trap the news of his birth inside them (lest it die in and with them).

The more of that spiritual food we share, the smaller the spiritual cancer caused by any forced silencing of our souls. We inherit our spiritual health through adoption, as Paul told the Galatians in Sunday’s second reading …

… adoption as sons. As proof that you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God. (Gal 4:4-7)

What were we adoptees slaves to? Fear. That is humanity’s cruelest master, and one from whom the shepherds on that silent night were freed. The angel God sent them revealed a new master, and the sight of him turned their fear to hope.

The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. (Lk 2:9-11)

Since that silent night, some of the most humble among us became angelic messengers themselves—spreading their hope to all they knew:

[The shepherds] made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. (Lk 2:17-18)

The comfort the hearers of that message received from Mary’s holy family, in turn, gave the mother of God hope for the human family she would mother for eternity:

And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. (Lk 2:19)

The light inside us from that reflection still lives and won’t be dimmed or silenced.

–Tom Andel

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