Mitsunobu Ichiro, Jesuit Social Center Director
Since autumn the days have became shorter and the cold of winter has arrived. The last Advent candle was lit last Sunday. Gradually the days will lengthen. The Awaited One is about to arrive and the time has been fulfilled. Christmas, the focus of human history, is upon us.We sing the Christmas carol representing Christmas as “Silent night, Holy night.” The vulgar expressionless night changes into a holy night upon seeing the Divinity born and bringing us blessings like the blessing of Faith. Most probably the theme of Christmas is to receive God’s everlasting energy into our hearts.For many, this Christmas, too, will be spent under a strange sky. Many people will face this day alone, separated from families and friends in public parks or in recesses of buildings or maybe in shelters or provisional housing. Christmas is an event celebrated at night in the middle of a cold winter.That dark night long ago God was born in a stable for domestic animals. The only people that noticed it were poor shepherds taking care of their flock and, later, three wise men searching for the Truth while following a star they saw in the east. The Eternal Infinite God silently became flesh and entered this world to be here with us. Totally defenseless as an innocent baby, he was raised by Mary and Joseph, young but good parents. It may be impossible to think of a more simple reality.
In short, Christmas is the feast of the One who became poor. It is a feast of poor people. We share at this time in the blessings of God, who can receive us into his rest after our death with the confidence that we are already in his hands, placing into his keeping all our sweat and tears, our sighs, our sufferings and joys.
There, in the midst, is the infant Jesus looking up to heaven from where he has come as a human being. It is impossible to depict in any form what he saw, free as he is and filled with eternal love. Faith changes this “silent night” into a “holy night,” meaning that when we conceive the word of God’s love within us, the birth of the infant Jesus becomes a reality inside ourselves, in much the same way as mothers bear children. There, in the midst, is the infant Jesus looking up to heaven from where he has come as a human being. It is impossible to depict in any form what he saw, free as he is and filled with eternal love.
Faith changes this “silent night” into a “holy night,” meaning that when we conceive the word of God’s love within us, the birth of the infant Jesus becomes a reality inside ourselves, in much the same way as mothers bear children. This change of heart breaks down all fear and mannerism, creates joy and a new heart, and brings peace to restore trust among people. The splendor that springs from the light surrounding us will not be consumed by the darkness, however much we may walk astray. This holy night entrusts all our sentiments to the light of the stars shining in the sky, to which even the animals in the stable look up.
What changes will be brought about by the confusion ensuing on the nuclear accident after the March 11 earthquake disaster, as well as from the confusion accompanying the political meltdown during the recent Japanese elections?
At this writing nothing is clear. A vaguely-oriented political party, like sparkler fireworks, makes a mad dash for Diet seats. A newly established government is asked to manifest publicly its desire to change Article 9 of the Constitution. A Tokyo governor, who behaved like a tyrant for many years, is now a new party lord. What will be the result of all these recent events?
During the season of Advent we have meditated on the following biblical passages: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah, 9:2, 5). “A child is born to us and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder. His name should be called Wonderful, Counselor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.”
What does this mean to us for the New Year? No matter what the results may be, my desire is to keep my eyes fixed on the Light, longing ceaselessly for the Prince of Peace. Listening to the call and the cries coming from the little Infant in the poor stable, one can feel the merciful happiness of his mother Mary and St Joseph, who took care of the child.
I pray for the Peace of Christmas. May the New Year give us the hope to work together to make Peace a reality.