The Catholic Weekly

Can we celebrate Christmas as Syria burns?

Trying to tamp down the guilt that rose like a cloud of evil dust, I mentally ran through my week, comparing it to the week that my brothers and sisters have endured in Aleppo. I shouldn’t have bought any presents, I thought. How could I even dare? How can we light our Advent candles and sing “O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel?” We are not captives. We are healthy, wealthy, safe, pampered. Our walls our intact. We are home. Our children are with us, safe and warm in bed. The Syrians, they are the ones who need rescuing, Lord. Lord, isn’t there something I can do?

Read the rest of my latest at The Catholic Weekly here.

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Image: By Ahill34 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

2 thoughts on “Can we celebrate Christmas as Syria burns?

  1. Before I even read the rest of what you wrote, my first reaction was: I do not think that Syrians would want us to stop celebrating and giving and being joyful, because of the bad that is happening to them.

    I think of Frodo and Sam again, crawling through the last miles to Mount Doom, and it’s not quite the same situatuon, Syrians didn’t CHOOSE to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, but still, why do we continue to struggle even in the depths of despair, even at the end of the world, even at death’s doorstep? Even when, by rights, we shouldn’t even be here?

    “It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
    The ones that really mattered.
    Full of darkness and danger they were,
    and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.
    Because how could the end be happy.
    How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
    But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
    Even darkness must pass.
    A new day will come.
    And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
    Those were the stories that stayed with you.
    That meant something.
    Even if you were too small to understand why.
    But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
    I know now.
    Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.
    Because they were holding on to something.

    Frodo : What are we holding on to, Sam?

    Sam : That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

    And that good, that is worth fighting for, no one describes it better than a certain wizard, speaking of a certain hobbit:

    “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.”

    And there you go. Why do we continue to celebrate Christmas, and spread joy and cheer, and loce our own kids, and our own families, and reach out to others? Because great power lies in the ordinary acts of ordinary people. We cannot take the joy out of the world because somewhere people are suffering. It is in SPREADING joy, not in smothering it that great power lies.

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