Sunday, January 15, 2012

Are We Telling Our Story All Wrong?

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.)

God Bless.


Anne said...

Thanks Michael, for visiting my blog regularly and for reading and reflecting upon the words posted there. I'm so grateful that you found meaning in Bishop Hying's words! It's a blessing to me to know him, to be influenced by him and to be able to share his wisdom with others.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

The thing is ... if we tell people the harsh truth: God visited us here on earth as a human.

Most people would find it difficult to believe.

Thanx for a great thought-provoking post.

God bless.

none said...

You've summed up a lot of my struggle and resistance so beautifully... I could very much relate to wanting things to be a fairytale... This perspective you've given us is so much more valuable and meaningful. Thank you so much.
Hope you're having a peaceful/rewarding Sunday :)