POPE/ Fiscal cliff, Christmas and the beginning of our freedom
I would have never thought that my first column of the new year would be about financial matters! But it has to be, I guess, since beyond any doubt the topic that has been dominating the public discussion has been the infamous so-called "fiscal cliff" into which we are all going to fall in a few hours unless an agreement is reached in a meeting between three men taking place right now as I write. (Vice President Biden has been summoned in order to re-energize the discussion.)
Although we do not know yet the results of the discussion taking place (present indications are positive), moving the President to an uncharacteristically light, at times even funny, monologue surrounded by "ordinary people”. The Senate Minority Leaders just announced that they were close to a compromise on points that will keep us off the cliff until the remaining divisions are solved next February. Just now, however, reporters are saying that there is no time to complete this agreement and that we will all fall into the cliff and remain there for a few days until we learn how to crawl out.
If all of this seems incomprehensible to you, don't worry, you are one of the "ordinary people," for whose good all of this is being done by our leaders.
In the midst of all of this there were the insights from Pope Benedict XVI in his Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses. I was particularly struck by his reference to our fear of God's love. God became a helpless baby, argues the Pope, so that we might dare to love Him.
The Pope is referring to that original meaning of religious liberty that he identified in his speeches at Regensburg and to the German Parliament, namely, the freedom to reject God's love. “I know that my Glory frightens you,” the Pope imagines God saying to us, “and that you are trying to assert yourself in the face of my grandeur. So now I am coming to you as a child, so that you can accept me and love me. “
Still the child about to be born found no room at the inn in which to be born and take away from us our fear of God's love.
Where is that inn today? Today's inn is a place in our thinking, in the way we look at reality.
Often this fear of God's love within us paralyzes us. This fear of reality as the bearer of God's love, I wonder, how would it affect politicians individually? It would create in us a fear of the loneliness of taking risks, and a partisanship that protects us from those who think differently.
Christmas is thus the celebration of the beginning of our freedom from the fear of God's love, even for scared politicians.