It has been said that Catholics only sing in church at Christmas. I am not sure that this is true, but from my vantage point on the altar, I have to admit, it does appear that on Christmas everyone seems to be singing.
Who can remain silent when, as entering the church, we hear the strands of O’ Come All Ye Faithful: and it would not seem like midnight mass if we did not sing Silent Night, Holy Night. What a peaceful, gentle picture that beloved carol conjures up in the mind. But is it an accurate picture? Was it true then, or is it true now?
In truth, there was no peaceful “silence” in crowded, chaotic Bethlehem the night Christ was born. It was a hamlet bursting at the seams with visitors and travelers who had come for the great census. There was no “calm” in all of Israel – only tension and conflict between the Jewish people and their Roman occupiers. Ancient Israel was hardly a place of “heavenly peace.” It was, in fact, a land torn apart by oppression, persecution, and terror. Madness reigned on that “Silent Night.”
And yet, on that noisy, chaotic and anxious night, Christ our Savior was born. Hidden in a dark cave, the Light of the World was born. Amid the pain and anguish of a devastated people, the Messiah came with new hope and transforming joy.
Even though our world today – centuries later – may seem far from ”silent,” our personal lives far from “calm,” and our futures far from “bright,” we know with the birth of each child comes new potential, exciting dreams, and a promise of hope.
This year, as we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, let us remember to pray and sing for Peace on Earth and goodwill to all, because He has blessed our flawed and fractured world by walking upon it, by loving those in it, and by laying down His life for all who pass through it, for He would rather die…. than live in eternity without us.