There is the spiritual Christmas going on at church and in our life of faith. We’re praying and reading and singing and looking for the light. We are anticipating the celebration of the birth of Jesus and all he brings into the world.
Then we go out the door and there is the cultural Christmas going on full force in the world. The parking lot at the shopping center is full. The traffic is awful. The UPS golf cart is tooling around the neighborhood delivering packages. People are out in public, like in restaurants, wearing Santa hats. The newspaper is stuffed with ads. In my in box, just when the political stuff started to slow down the Christmas deals started flowing in. And what does all this have to do with a story about God coming into the world in a tiny baby demonstrating fierce, uncompromising love? What does this have to do with the inauguration of a whole new world of justice and peace? Seems like Christmas would look more like a farmworker demonstration than a half time show but here we are. And we are drawn into these various dimensions of Christmas.
The movie, “The Infiltrator,” is based on the autobiography of Robert Mazur, a US Customs special agent. The movie, starring Bryan Cranston, takes place in the ’80’s and tells the story of Robert Mazur going undercover and taking on the created identity of Bob Musella to expose the money laundering operations of the world’s largest drug cartel. In real life, Mazur is a loving, caring father and husband who plays games with his kids and adores his wife. For his job, he is dealing with thugs, involved in shoot outs, and matching the macho of these drug lords. Several times in the movie we see the psychic conflict that this causes for Robert/Bob. There is a horrible episode with his wife in a restaurant that leads to their separating. In another scene, we are shown the tension that occurs because Bob has become very involved with the drug lords that he is trying to entrap. It’s almost as if he is betraying his friends.
Having divided loyalties, trying to maintain multiple identities, dealing with conflicting values in different realms of our lives takes its toll. It creates spiritual, emotional, and psychic stress and pain. It can take a lot of lies, rationalizations, and twisted thinking to keep it all together.
Christianity is about wholeness and healing. It is an invitation to be one person with a united heart and spirit. It is about living from one set of values and morals in a unified manner. Our guiding principle is love – love of self, love of neighbor, and love of God however God is defined for you. By the light of Jesus we can come to see the compromises, conflicts, and discontinuities in our lives that are preventing us from living abundantly. May we welcome that light into our lives this holy season so that we receive the promised comfort and joy of Christmas.
Prayer: In these dark days, may I look for the light of Christ shining in the world and in my life. Amen.
You may want to note in your journal a time when you felt a conflict of values or interests in your life. How did that make you feel? How was it resolved? What did you learn?