Christmas will come

This first appeared in The Inquirer, Issue 8049

Christmas will come.
When the nights are so long that even the day is dark,
and the world’s balloon is a fugitive from the sky,
when hope seeps out of our collective life like breath,
like the wind punched from a downed fighter,
Christmas will come.

Christmas will come.
When the woman who carries the children of men,
swollen with shame and miracle,
is given no place for the beginning of the human story,
when the doors are shut against children,
when there is no room for the needy
outside the hovels of the making-do,
when the future of our faith lies homeless
in the straw and ashes,
and no one much cares,
when an animal cries for its lot,
Christmas will come.

Christmas will come.
When a man, wronged by circumstance
and prophecy,
is cheated by his God,
when a man is denied his due,
marries an empty dream,
and still is ruled by mercy,
when a man who refuses to give in
to the iron laws of this world
and lights a small candle in the hearth of fate,
Christmas will come.

Christmas will come,
when the baby is helpless and dependent,
when the little savior who would, in time,
raise Lazarus,
cannot even bring life to its own lips,
when the hungry child is brought to the breast,
Christmas will come.

The kings will come later.
The shepherds will hasten to the good news.
Tonight, in the lowliest manger in Caesar’s kingdom,
as it is in the hearts of the poor,
as it always is in the moments afforded
to the discarded, the lost, those who are failing
to stave off death,
as it is to all who light candles in the night,
Christmas has come.

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