Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Pope, Grinch, & Charlie Brown:
An Eternal Golden Braid

His Holiness, Benedict, Sixteenth of that Name, Pope, Servant of the Servants of God, held a Holy Mass at St. Peter's today to celebrate the birth of the Son of God. In this, his seventh Christmas as Pope, he had some pointed words for those of us celebrating a prosperous Christmas.
"Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God's humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity," he said in his homily to about 10,000 people in the basilica and millions more watching on television throughout the world.

"Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light."

This phrasology, which Drudge headlined as POPE DECRIES FAUX CHRISTMAS, is not without resonance even in our most commercial Christmas traditions in the United States.

The first of course is Dr. Seuss's How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, the immortal legend of how a Christmas hating thief tried to steal the thunder of Christmas by stealing the presents.

It didn't work, of course.
He stared down at Who-ville!
The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook!
What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas", he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

What, exactly Christmas meant, however, Dr. Seuss could not bring himself to say.

He left it to another great and popular artist of his day, Charles Schultz.

His Charlie Brown--everyman--has a unique reaction (at least among children) to the coming of the Christmas season: he's depressed. The presents and gifts seem to be empty and meaningless. He likes giving presents, but he truly cannot find the spirit of the season. His sadness sets him apart from his peers, but shows him to be a young child with significant insight into truth.

He has every reason to be sad.

But: his friend Linus tells--reminds--him what he has forgotten.

And so: a blessed Christmas, brought to you by the Pope, the Grinch, and Charlie Brown.... and Linus--named, it should be noted, for the first Pope after Peter--provides the answer.

It's not an excuse for profit taking, it's not about an orgy of credit card debt, it's not about tinsel, tags, packages, boxes or bags: it's about Christ the King.

God love you all every one. And merry Christmas.

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