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Something to think and pray about this week


Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that those who witnessed the birth of Jesus were not Christian. They hadn’t been to Mass, hadn’t recited the third joyful mystery of the rosary, the nativity or hadn’t even paid their Christmas Dues!

Whatever content there is in every faith tradition or world religion there is always the space for mystery, contemplation and silence. Cultures make room for inward and outward expressions of faith in varying degrees, but they change to accommodate the times and traditions of the people at particular points in time.  The Wise Men followed their star and brought gifts as was the custom in their place of origin, but little is told of what they said but that they bowed down and worshipped. The shephards, on the other hand, went home ‘singing praises to their God’ (Lk 2:20).

God inhabits a culture and his presence is mediated through this same culture. It is where humanity meets God. None is excluded from this hope,  be they shepherds, wise men, astronauts, teachers, hairdressers or farmers. Sometimes a culture is laden down with religious symbols and preferences and at other times the religious content of a culture is more difficult to identify. This is more and more the case in Western civilisation where the name Christmas abounds, but the religious content of this festival is put in a mincer and extracted for all sorts of politically correct and incorrect reasons.

It’s time to follow the example of the wise men and shephards and discover the divine content where it is to be found and honour it; even sing aloud about it on the way home from wherever we find it. Once found, a culture can be remoulded to accommodate any amount of religious content, allowing it to grow like a Spring bulb in fresh soil.

Excerpted from Dipping Into Advent: Reflections for Advent and Christmas by Alan Hilliard
(pp: 49-50)