Traces N.11, December 2007

Christmas, the Beginning of Hope

“O weary, weary were the world… O stern and cunning are the kings,” wrote G. K. Chesterton in his poem A Christmas Carol, published in 1900. More than a century has passed, but not much has changed. The world is still disoriented, as it was then, and the power goes on playing with human need.
You just have to look around you to see it: we seem astounded at news of abducted child soldiers in Sudan, suicide bombers in Pakistan, mall and school shootings, the outcome of a nothingness that surrounds too many lives.
And you just have to look at yourself to see that a thousand times a day you feel tired and weary, like everyone else, and are taken up with the same thoughts as everyone else.
You just have to look.

But what happens if that look does not stop at the surface? What can happen if you look deeper, if you accept the challenge of reality fully?
You have to be blind and deaf not to see what lies at the bottom of what surrounds us; blind not to realize that “the whole of creation is groaning in labor pains even until now,” as St. Paul said to the Romans; and deaf not to hear the entreaty that underlies it, a cry that no confusion can stifle. And I, what am I looking for? What do I really need? Who can support my hope? Who can answer this need I have for unending happiness?

What tenderness the Mystery has for us, what compassion! And what trust, because you must really have total esteem for man in order to entrust your Son to him. You have to bet on his freedom.
Yet God breaks into history just like this, entrusting Himself to your freedom, to my freedom, coming down to the root of your need, accompanying you to the point where you discover its origin and its depth, reminding you not to stifle it, to follow it to the end, to the point where you discover that it is need for Another. For, as Chesterton added, “O weary, weary were the world… But here the world’s desire.”
The Mystery knows it. He knows your heart very well, because it is His. He knows what you are looking for, and He answers in a way you could never have imagined, becoming your traveling companion, a man like us, a child; and then a company of men like us–the Church.
It seems very little to us, Fr. Julián Carrón recalled some time ago in a lesson to the responsibles of CL. It seems very little and, in fact, we go on looking as if we were still lacking something. But, instead, it is everything, because that companionship “makes us understand what the nature of our ‘I’ is–direct relationship with the Mystery–and what the meaning of the whole of reality is.”

This is the hope that saves us, as Benedict XVI’s new encyclical letter tells us (enclosed with Traces this month). It is a gift that the Holy Father offers to everyone’s heart, so that every heart be helped to recognize Him who answers our need.
It seems very little, like a child in a manger.
But it is the beginning of everything.
Happy reading and Merry Christmas.