Troubles over Christmas

The news remains grim. A typhoon in the Philippines, twenty dead. A man shot on his doorstep on Christmas eve, in front of his children; the 135th murder in our blood-soaked capital. A father and two children drowned in a swimming pool on the Costa del Sol. There’s a feeling among some that these events are all the more tragic for having occurred at Christmas, to which I’m generally inclined to agree. This is confirmed by a series of ads running on Classic FM this month, urging listeners to donate to a certain homelessness charity, because ‘no-one should be sleeping rough at Christmas’. Presumably, lacking a home is no pleasanter on other nights. We have this notion that Christmas is that ideal time of year during which we are sheltered from life’s troubles and horrors.

The first Christmas was no harmonious idyll. Apart from the dozens of uninvited guests, rough accommodation and general trauma of a childbirth, a petty tyrant launched a mass infanticide. Well might Rachel weep for her children, refusing to be comforted. The young family fled to Egypt. Unlike most refugees, these at least had some ready cash and assets to liquidise to pay for their stay. Still, the anxiety of having to evacuate one’s own country cannot have been easy, and Mary and Joseph may not have looked back on that year with fondness.  

The golden age we seek, the millennial bliss of peace, prosperity and concord, are to be found in the age to come. This is the ultimate corollary of Christ’s incarnation. Until that great day, we continue to live among the tragedies and horrors of our sin-scorched world. No student is greater than his master, and neither will our Christmases be more peaceful or calm than the first.