Is that all there is?
The account speaks more to the poor and alienated than to the well-to-do or powerful. A canticle, or song, puts these words in mother Mary’s mouth as she proclaims the greatness of the Lord: “He has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty…” To the poor, good news, but not exactly material for heart-warming television for the average viewer.
And yet… I have been watching Christmas reruns of M*A*S*H, that great antiwar series, and God’s love appears in the smile of a war-shattered orphan. Perhaps, as the canticle suggests, it depends on where I look. It depends on where my heart is.
Perhaps there is comfort in a lovely Christmas carol, “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.” The song ends with the hope of peace on earth. Before it, however, is the third verse: “Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long; beneath the heavenly hymn have rolled two thousand years of wrong; and warring humankind hears not the tidings which they bring; O hush the noise and cease your strife and hear the angels sing.”
That angelic song is in our hearts and in the love we share. It does not depend on things. It is a hope that can accept our powerlessness and our brokenness. It is hope that can trust in that Love greater than ourselves. It is hope that transcends expectations and rests in openness. It comes from the recognition of God’s love in the faces of both friends and enemies. It is the hope that yearns for true peace.
Indeed, there is hope.
[Mother Joan LaLiberte is the priest at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Callicoon, NY.]