Monday, December 21, 2020
Fr. Eduardo Barrios, SJ
There is no need to underscore that humanity has been living through disturbing times since March, thanks to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the arrival of fall, the holidays approach. In the United States, the celebratory atmosphere begins October 31 with Halloween, an ambiguous holiday characterized by costumes of unequal taste.
Then, on the fourth Thursday of November, we always have Thanksgiving Day, a celebration that not everyone regards as an opportunity to give thanks to God. For many, it is just a reason to share an opulent family dinner centered on roasted turkey accompanied by the characteristic garnishes plus desserts and selected beverages.
The main festivities are concentrated in late December and early January with Christmas, New Year, and the Epiphany or Three Kings Day, all of them with food, desserts and the traditional drinks from each region.
Many probably feel that el horno no está para galleticas this year — that is to say, 2020 is not suitable for parties.
But it would be a mistake to be overcome by adverse circumstances and to abstain from the celebrations. It is enough to cautiously reduce the number of participants at the festive events, limiting them to the closest family members, but never to stop celebrating what deserves to be celebrated. Human beings need respite and festivities.
With the arrival of Jesus Christ to the world came the "fullness of time" (Gal 4:4). The coming of the Savior must always be celebrated. December 25 solemnizes the most decisive event in human history; nothing surpasses it. Jesus Christ gives the world a victorious direction, especially after his glorious Easter. It is true that history has its difficulties, but fundamentally, the universe is heading towards a triumphant goal.
The setbacks we encounter on our earthly pilgrimage can be accommodated with a spirit of faith. Divine revelation offers us solid rocks on which to build our hope and our joy. Let us remember the consoling words of St. Paul: "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us" (Rom 8:18). No less comforting are the words that the same chapter brings a few verses later: "We know that all things work for good for those who love God" (v. 28).
And if these months at the end of the year find someone in very precarious health, should they stop celebrating the holidays for that reason? No, not at all. Let us turn once more to St. Paul: "Although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). True inner joy can find outward expression by somehow participating in the festivities.
Of course, it takes great faith to contemplate a truly happy future amid extreme suffering. However, such firm faith exists. There has never been a lack of believers living their last moments of earthly pilgrimage by making their own the happiness of the psalmist: "I rejoiced when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord!” (Psalm 122)