Christmas 2012

On Christmas Eve, my Mom, my Mom’s husband, and I watched It’s a Wonderful Life, then we went to midnight mass.  The priest’s homily was about how Jesus was a light amidst darkness, and how we—-who have Christ inside of us—-should be lights in the darkness, too.

It’s difficult to be light in the darkness, when we ourselves have so much darkness inside of us.  I was thinking about this last night when the priest talked about us becoming worthy through Christ to be in God’s presence.  I thought to myself that I certainly was not worthy!  But then I reflected: I’m no more or no less worthy than most other people!

In my opinion, everyone is a mixture of light and darkness.  In some of us, the light is stronger.  In others of us, the darkness is stronger.  And then there are a number of cases in which we fail to cultivate the light that is within us by loving others because we are swamped with our own problems.  This world is a mixture of light and darkness.  There are plenty of people, both Christian and non-Christian, who can bring themselves to care for at least someone, even people they may not know.  And yet, the world can be a pretty cold place.

On It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey was a mixture of light and darkness.  He had light because he cared for the people of his community and supported his father’s ideal that people should be able to have decent and affordable housing, for their sake, and also because that would make them better citizens.  George was compassionate towards people, acknowledging when they fell on financial hard times and seeking to work with them when that was the case.  What’s more, George was light in the midst of darkness, for, without him, Mr. Potter would have taken over, and people would have been resigned to living in his shoddy yet expensive slums.

But there was also darkness within George, for George was bitter because he had to stay behind in Bedford Falls (which he considered a crummy little town), when he wanted to go out and see the world.  He needed to be reminded that what he did (and what he had) truly mattered.

As I’ve said before, I’d like to think that George and his wife got to see the world!  I know that such a story is non-existent, but it can exist within my mind, I suppose.  In my opinion, those who are lights in the world—-the clergy who take the time to help their congregants with their problems and their challenges, parents, etc.—-should get a decent vacation to help them to recharge their batteries.  Even Jesus needed to take a rest, every once in a while.  He did that when he recharged his spiritual batteries by praying, and also when he went on retreats with his disciples.  A person’s light can get beaten down, and perhaps even extinguished, when he or she does not take the time to rest and to rejuvenate.  That does not mean that a person becomes evil without rejuvenation, but rather that a person may become bitter, frustrated, unhappy, or uncaring if his or her spiritual batteries are not recharged.

Anyway, those are my disorganized ramblings for today!  Have a good Christmas!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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