December 27, 2013

"Silent Night"-- when Humility crushes Pride

by Larry Peterson

Peace on earth? Where is it? Is it in Syria? How about Pakistan? Maybe Sudan or Iraq? It is definitely not hanging out in Afghanistan or Iran. How about Cuba?  What does "Peace on Earth" mean? It is not a cease fire between warring factions. It is not a complicated or even simple agreement between nations. True Peace on Earth can only come about by the destruction of the great demon, Pride, and there is only one true weapon that can go head-to-head with Pride and crush it. That weapon is more powerful than all the weapons in all of the arsenals in the world put together. That weapon is Humility.

The weapon of Humility came to us in the form of a newborn baby on Christmas.  This story is so amazing that our simple common sense will tell us it was never fabricated or made up. The most creative writers who ever lived could not have conjured up such a preposterous tale. Imagine, a king being born in a smelly, dirty animal stall to a simple teenage girl whose husband was a struggling carpenter with no money. Then the couple would have to take the baby King and run for their lives because the reigning king, Herod, feared the baby might grow up and overthrow him. Herod's Pride seizes him so he sends his soldiers to kill the baby King. You are  familiar with the rest of the story. As preposterous as this story may seem more than a billion people believe it. For two thousand years this belief  has continued to transform the world. Millions upon millions of us  celebrated His birth the world over the other night. How can that be? It is due to that great intangible we call FAITH. You can't see it, you can't touch it and you cannot  smell it. However, if you open yourself up to it, it can grab you in a life-long embrace that might take your breath away.

Peace without love is an illusion. It cannot exist. It can never come from our own agenda. That is because the deadly toxin, Pride, gets inside us and drips its venom into our hearts filling our egos so much that they sometimes explode with hatred. This hatred is quite visible in the Middle East where Christians are being killed and tortured every day because they believe in this baby and who He grew up to be. The Good News is we have been given the antidote. It is Humility.

Our greatest of all gifts, FAITH, allows us to  believe that God, the Creator of all that is, shared Himself with us through  His Son and, in so doing,  humbled Himself in the most profound act of selflessness that was and will ever be. This was God become man for us. He came as a helpless, innocent newborn, barely able to grasp the finger of his Mom. He allowed himself to be born amidst  the squalor and filth of a stable. Poor shepherds from the hillside were His first visitors. Humility lay in a pile of straw and  looked up into the beautiful face of His weary Mom. A few small pot fires provided enough light for the man of the family, Joseph, to see the two people that he had to care for and protect. No bells were ringing...no trumpets blaring ...no cymbals were smashing. The deafening quiet made this the greatest of Silent Nights.  Thirty-three years later, booming thunder would echo His death and three days after that brilliant sunshine would announce our redemption. It is the most beautiful of all truths.

Seventy-three years ago the story of Our Lady of Lourdes was presented in the movies under the title "The Song of Bernadette". Franz Werfel, the author, had a prologue appear on screen before the movie began. It said, "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe no explanation is possible."  That is not exactly true. FAITH is a gift that many non-believers have seen fit to grab onto. They have responded to God's graces and listened. They have grabbed the 'brass ring'. Many more cannot escape the all consuming Pride that keeps telling them they are so much smarter than all those 'believers'. I only wish they would reach out and allow that little hand to squeeze their finger, just  for a moment. It will not hurt one bit and they might find out they were not so smart after all..