In some of my conversations I hear people discouraged, wondering about the future. It is disturbing because the roots of conflict travel deeply into our psyche. It cannot be changed by simply hoping for the best, exerting a greater power, or trusting that politicians will soften their ideology. A mentality of conflict has become part of the Fabric of our approach to life. It is more than individual self-protection. It has become the shape of our collective mentality and we feed off one another.
I’ve quoted Raimon Panikkar several times before:
‘The world has lived its history via a story of conflict, unless we recreate our story to one of peace, with our nuclear weaponry and carelessness with the environment we will destroy ourselves.’
A DISTANT GOD
A great confusion arises when humanity’s religious belief is meant to counteract this and offer a way toward freedom. I suggest part of the problem has been the belief that the divine is a reality distantly removed: A distant notion that we may encounter in the future beyond this realm. The birth of Jesus challenged this picture. Paul captures it more pointedly in his beautiful description, ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.’ This is the power of the Christmas’ story.
ALL IS RELATIONAL
Down through history, Great luminaries have sought to share in this life of reconciliation. In so many different arenas they have called for a commitment to peace. Echoing the very purpose of Jesus life they have followed their dream in the shadow of the false prophets and self serving leaders who so easily sell the ideology of power as security.
What is baffling is that contemporary knowledge informs us that all is inter-related and that when brought together in harmony the quality of life is so greatly enhanced. Why do people, common citizens or leaders live the opposite?
CHRISTMAS & RENEWAL
Here is the challenge of Christmas. As pleasant as the good will and fun celebrations of friends and family at the end of the year might be, it is a superficial society that stops at this tinsel level of Christmas. Its truth challenges us to find the root of such good will. Enter the stable of our minds and ‘be transformed by the renewal of our mind,’ are the words of St. Paul.
Peace is not a simple pleasantness. Peace is the essence of the wholistic and fulfilled life
It is a call to risk living by the eternal and universal values of respect, of generosity, of love.
These emanate from the divine within all of us
Christmas is the story of God’s risk of love to awaken us to this reality. God is not distant, but integral to our very being. God risked disempowering Gods-self, by creating a world in which humanity could discover that same goodness. God risked the life of a humble peasant to show us the way. The intensity of love in this depth of conviction transformed the Palestinian peasant into the prince of peace. This peace is what we speak of as, the peace that passes all understanding. It is the essence of the rhythm and harmony of being that is the foundation of all.
Christmas calls us to emulate this life of peace and share in the work of reconciling all things as one.
To remain disinterested is to risk the very survival of humanity.