The only thing that doesn’t change is God.
The good news we celebrate at Christmas of the birth of Jesus doesn’t change.
It becomes more meaningful in our lives as other stuff fades away.
Christmas proclaims that despite everything going on around us, God is still in control. And God always has a plan to deal with the evils that assail us.
During lockdown I heard a magnificent homily from Cardinal Collins of Toronto, Canada. He was talking about the time when for the Israelites the Red Sea was on one side of them, and Pharaoh and his army were closing in to attack them. It was only when the Israelites were reduced to prayer, to acknowledging that nothing else other than God could save them, that God opened up their escape route and drowned Pharaoh’s army.
That pattern was repeated many times in the Book of Judges, where the Israelites are living miserable lives under foreign rulers, that it is only when they collectively get desperate enough to pray, and they pray, that God raises up a leader anointed with His Holy Spirit to deal with the evil oppressing them.
In Jesus Jairus saw the very last hope for his daughter to live.
In Jesus the woman with the haemorrhage saw the very last hope of healing.
In Jesus the apostles sinking in the boat during the huge storm on Lake Galilee saw their only rescue.
All of them pursued Jesus and called out in their desperation to Him, and everything was instantaneously set right.
So we are never to get discouraged when things look bleak.
Faith and fear are opposites, they cannot co-exist.
Faith calls into being the good things that aren’t visible yet.
Fear calls into being the evil things that aren’t visible yet.
When we are in fear the strategic thinking parts of our brains don’t function, and automatic responses of flight, fight, flee or freeze kick in. Immediate danger needs an immediate response - because there isn’t time to think through all the options.
In the bible God says ‘Do not be afraid’ over and over again.
This means that we need to feed our faith, and we need to reduce our exposure to things that engender fear.
One of the best ways to feed faith is to read passages from the bible, especially from the Gospels. Pondering Gospel scenes through the Rosary is another way.
If you notice your fear levels increasing after watching, listening to or reading the news, do less of that. If something is truly important, you will find out about it another way. Pay attention to when your fear levels increase, and where you were, and who you were talking to, when that happened. Spend more time with people who make you feel hopeful.
God is still in control.
God is always good.
God will never permit anything to happen unless greater good will come out of it.
All things, ALL things, work together for the good of those who love God.
‘We know that by turning EVERYTHING to their good God
co-operates with all those who love Him’, Romans 8:28a
That includes masks, lockdowns, illnesses, falls, aches and pains. ALL things.
If you haven’t seen the greater good yet, then it is still on the way.
After loss, death and grief …. resurrection always comes, always.
It is tempting to get discouraged when yet another layer of malicious evil comes to light. But such times should increase our hope and our courage because it means that God has been at work. Wounds only get better when they have been exposed to the light and cleaned of all gunk. God is the one who shines light into our lives. He is the one who exposes and cleans out all the gunk caused by the enemy of our souls.
As St Padre Pio recommends: Pray, hope and don’t worry.
Your prayers are needed more than ever, as is your hope and your faith.
God is in control.
God is always victorious over every kind of evil.
God is always working towards our greater good.
We can safely trust in Him, always.
Dear Heavenly Father, as the birthday of Jesus draws near the difference between the peace proclaimed by the angels to the shepherd and the conflicts and turmoil of our modern world seem starker than ever.
But You are still in control.
Draining the evil swamp areas, local and multi-national, while preserving the good, is a painstaking and messy business.
Yet You have undertaken to accomplish this for us, since it was so far beyond our capacity to do.
You are the only antidote to evil this big and this entrenched.
The blood of Jesus and the wounds of Jesus vanquish every evil.
Today we reaffirm our trust in You.
We thank You for the mind-blowingly wonderful outcomes that are on their way; victories against evil that are so thorough that only You can win.
As we wait for the promised manifestation of Your Kingdom on earth, we also wait for Your promised deliverance from all evil.
We know that we do not wait in vain.
But dear God, sometimes the pain of waiting weighs so heavily upon us.
Please help us each time our faith in You is assailed by the enemy of our souls.
May this Christmas find us more confident of Your love, Your goodness and Your providence than ever before. Amen.