Sunday, December 25, 2005

Reflections on Iraq and the Journey of the Magi 

Its funny how the little things about the holidays are always the most interesting. I've always found the three kings to be the most fascinating aspect of the Christmas story, and this year was no exception. Perhaps its because we're supposed to identify with them: three men who believed, with only a faint sign and their faith in God to guide them, and followed. They brought gifts and gave of themselves, even though they knew that if it was truly the God they sought that was laying in the hay, their gifts would be of no consequence. Or perhaps its because they were very nearly the first Christian martyrs. Had Herod had his way (say that five times fast), the Christmas story, and the Bible, would be a much more brisk read. Earlier tonight at dinner, I saw for the first time a much more urgent message in this timeless story. Passing the near-scalding plate of fish to my brother and reaching for a glass of brandy, my Dad ceremoniously raised his hand and brought silence to the Christmas Eve table. "Here's to the Armed Forces," he choked, with sudden and obvious emotion,"Fighting over there so we can do whatever we want over here. God Bless 'em."

It's not all that hard to imagine a Christmas in Iraq, although it's considerably more difficult to imagine having to actually endure one. I drove to midnight mass in a car that is probably more comfortable, and spacey for that matter, than many soldiers' living quarters. Yet, there must be a certain satisfaction that can only belong to those who have brought the true joy of Christmas to a world that has seldom known it. Our military, our own three kings, have traveled across the world bearing much more oils and precious metals. They carry with them the shining torch of freedom, casting light into the once dark places of the world. How little seem the trivial concerns of the Christmas season when compared with the thought of never seeing your family again for daring to vote, or voice your opinion, or any opinion. I can't imagine the joy of receiving a gift such as that for Christmas, let alone being able to give it.

In his masterful and breathtaking poem The Journey of the Magi, T.S. Elliot leaves the reader to ponder whether Christmas is significant for the coming of the savior, or the giving up of self that is the ultimate call of the Christian life. That so many have given of themselves already is only a testament to the veracity and importance of the cause for which we now battle. There are few causes greater than human freedom, and in that sense our soldiers do God's work this Christmas Eve. Not as crusaders, for they seek not to eradicate, but as Magi, journeying to a land far away, even as many around them question their very cause, to give of themselves for something far greater than any of us. God Bless them indeed. And Merry Christmas.

nice reflection, may God bless 'em -Adrian
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?