I have incredibly mixed feelings about the events of the last week. On Monday morning, while sitting in the Parish Office, I received a call from our daughter announcing “I’m not one of the hostages!” And I was confused because I had been in the office for some time and hadn’t heard the latest news.
All day I felt bombarded (along with the rest of Australia) with suppositions, accusations and commentary by so called “experts” – speaking about the situation with little real knowledge of what was actually happening inside the Lindt Coffee Shop in Martin Place.
I thank God that a certain amount of calm replaced the original fear mongering by the media, bent on explaining the incident as an act of terrorism. Meanwhile our Muslim brothers and sisters were the subject of hateful and vitriolic calls to (go back where you belong!”) in an act of solidarity, Christians began to reach out in friendship, to innocent Muslims who were once again blamed for this act of violence – and every other act of terrorism.
On Wednesday morning I awoke to the news that Taliban insurgents had killed at least 141 people, most of them children, after storming an army-run school in Pakistan’s deadliest ever terror attack. This attack made the news but hardly rated a mention on a number of media websites.
And good news rates even less attention unless it involves blowing one’s own trumpet. There has been little, in the news, about the meaning of Christmas.
We live in a crazy world where horror is newsworthy and good deeds barely rate a mention. We live in a world where people live in fear of their neighbours and events that may never come to reality. But there is good news!
In this last week before Christmas, we read of the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she will give birth to a special baby. Gabriel’s reassurance not to be afraid reminds us that God is with us in all circumstances. God’s steadfast, faithful, ever present love is expressed in all readings for today.
In the “magnificat,” Mary sings a song of total trust, singing of great reversals, and rejoicing that even in affliction God can bring about good. In our sorrow songs, spirituals, and freedom songs, God sustains us, affirms us, emboldens us as God did Mary. We the weak are made strong. “We are not afraid today, for we shall overcome.”
Consider, when and how have you felt the sustaining power of God’s presence and when have you been able to encourage others to live lives of trust and faith because of the “present” of Gods own Son?