We love to romanticize everything.
Clean it up.
Make it shiny and beautiful.
We just completed the Christmas season where we sang of a beautiful star, a Holy Babe wrapped in perfect linens, and a confident, smiling Mary and Joseph. There were angelic shepherds, and perfectly behaved, fragrant sheep and cows. Heck, even a little kid played a catchy little ditty on his drum in the background.
As I wrote earlier, it probably didn't happen like that.
But it just feels all warm and fuzzy when we add some creative touches to it, doesn't it?
Well, perhaps we are doing a disservice to the real story and to our religion.
Anne, who is always teaching me new things, posted an article written by Bishop Hying in which he wrote:
"We cannot romanticize the Christian narrative without decreasing its potent reality. God comes to us in all of the messiness and lunacy of the real world to save us as we are, not to redeem some idealized version of ourselves."
I've been thinking a lot about that over the past two weeks.
The power of the Catholic story shines through most brilliantly in the ugliness of this world, not the cleaned up version of it.
God sent His only Son to us in the remoteness of Bethlehem, not the grandeur of Jerusalem. In a crowded, smelly stable, not a lush palace. And in a world full of sin, not the perfection of Paradise.
Mary and Joseph didn't go from wedding bells to cigars and baby announcements. They struggled with the reality of being chosen. Walked miles and miles through harsh terrain while pregnant. Were chased after giving birth to their Son far away from the "comforts" of home.
And our Savior did not come here on a cloud and banish all His enemies from an Earthly throne. He was born among the animals, grew up in a lowly town, and was beaten and crucified for teaching love.
Bishop Hying is right. Our world is not perfect. It is ugly and full of sin. And our Salvation happened within those realities ... not in some fairy tale we cannot relate to.
Ironically, it is through that lens that our story becomes more powerful, not less so.
(Thanks again, Anne, for that thought provoking post.)