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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Advent

"O Clavis David (December 20) O Key of David (Apoc 3: 7) Scepter of the house of Israel, you open and no man closes; you close and no man opens (Isa 22: 22). Come, and deliver him from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death" (Ps 107: 10).

I'm sitting at my computer watching the wind blow the snow off the trees. The wind-chill was below zero when we got up this morning and, even with the sun shining brightly, is probably in the single digits. (Which reminds me of my son Neil. We were talking one morning when he was five or so about the "wind chill factor" and he very solemnly said at the end of the conversation. "I wouldn't want to live in the wind chill factory!") It certanly would be a cold place today.

Suppose you were imprisoned in the darkness of the wind chill factory -- cold and alone, "chained" by your sins. A frigid wasteland is as much a symbol of hell as hell fire. When evil reigned in Narnia it was a place of snow and ice, but no Christmas cheer. In Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale, The Snow Queen, Kai and Gerda, best friends, are separated when a sliver from an broken mirror created by an evil troll is embedded in Kai's heart. The broken mirror symbolizes a distorted reality that freezes out goodness and beauty. In both stories, sin and sorrow are connected to coldness and frigidity.

Jesus comes to give sight to the blind, not only the physically blind, but those blinded by sin. When he restores sight, he shows us all things as they really are, the good, the true, and the beautiful. Evil is a negation. Good thrusts it back into hell. That's why holiness shines so brightly in the hell holes of the death camps and gulags. The fire of God's love melts the ice and snow of the cold heart.

If you haven't been to confession for Christmas you still have a few days left. It warms the heart.

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