Replacing negativity with nativity

We comfort ourselves with the likelihood that there has to be something else out there

Ask anybody to quote a line from O Holy Night and you will almost invariably get “till he appeared and the soul found its worth,” as your answer. Photograph: Getty Images

Ask anybody to quote a line from O Holy Night and you will almost invariably get “till he appeared and the soul found its worth,” as your answer. Photograph: Getty Images

 

It is easy to forget how important we really are. There is a part of us that instinctively rejects irrelevance but it gets quickly crushed in the cogs of the machine of which we are one. Sometimes we believe we are an essential cog but, even then, it doesn’t take long for somebody else to alert us to our replicability. The most dehumanising quotation that does the rounds is the observation that the graveyard is full of indispensable people. As a species we have a problem with negativity.

The Gospel tomorrow is the tale of two expectant mothers meeting each other and replacing negativity with nativity. It has long been a fundament of Christian faith that every man, woman and child is valuable and we should strive to remember that always. In the bleak days of mid-winter we celebrate a human birth that is a divine birth, the boundaries between the mortal and the eternal are fudged as we propagate the most amazing thing in our universe, life!

Many people find great solace in the law of probabilities. Standing there and staring out across the cosmos, we comfort ourselves with the likelihood that there has to be something else out there. Probably there is, but isn’t it more important to realise that there is intelligent life all around us and our part in that is very definitely real. We might not like to admit it, but there is no denying that we are good at downgrading life around us and even downgrading our own lives – then came Christmas.

Check this one out: ask anybody to quote a line from O Holy Night and you will almost invariably get “till he appeared and the soul found its worth,” as your answer. Despite our institutional negativity we have a deep thirst for something else. That is a thirst we sate every time we share the positivity of the excited conversation of expectant new parents. Nativity is the one time when humans are comfortable with speaking unashamedly of the value of every individual life. We were all babies once.

Is there an antidote to misery in the world? Turning our minds once a year to the positive memory of a welcome birth is certainly helpful. Taking a look at the people who are part of your life and remembering how important you are to them is not arrogance as long as you are also remembering how important they are to you. That is what a real religious Christmas is. At Christmas the church celebrates the source of all life, blessing our particular incidence of life in a special way. We celebrate it around birth because it is the only place where we can almost be guaranteed of a bit of positivity.

Not only are we capable of transmitting the possibility that inspires us in the cosmos; we are also capable of sustaining it right here on Earth.

Life is not just about its transmission, we spend most of our time sustaining it and this is a remarkable achievement.

In all the gloom, we live our lives in support of others and they in turn live for us. At Christmas we make a small acknowledgment of gratitude to these lives and they do the same for us. It is never wasteful to say thank you and it is always a pleasure to hear those words spoken. They remind us that others have found our worth even if we haven’t yet accepted our worth ourselves.

Happy Christmas! – FERGAL Mac EOINÍN

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