By Sr. Spero
The Christmas message can seem like a paradox. On one level, it’s the story of a young pregnant girl who is forced by her government to travel many miles in difficult and crowded conditions, and then give birth in the only shelter available—with the animals. It is also the story of great splendor—angels appearing on a hillside in all their radiance and glory, proclaiming tidings of great joy. The first sounds pretty grim, the second so extraordinary it is beyond description.
Which is real—the difficulty or the splendor?
The Christmas message is both. “A light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.” Darkness is real, but light wins. The angels are singing through the darkness, piercing it with light. The canticle for Lauds during the Christmas season is from Jeremiah 31 and contains these verses: “For the Lord will ransom Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they;” and “I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”
Christmas hope does not deny evil. During the Christmas season, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the slaughter of young children who became martyrs for the sake of Christ. We can celebrate this event because we know that evil is overcome, and the message of the angels is true. No matter what the outward circumstances, we have heard “tidings of great joy.”