The Cohen/official is not someone who died two plus millennia ago. Times are dark and gloomy. “Upon you, the NAME shines and over you appears his weight. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you.” The sacrament calls us to be happy people with happy leaders. We complain about how our nation has a lack of leaders. In our recent election, we did, in fact, elect a distorted cross between Nero and Caligula. There is plenty of room for doom and gloom.
Back in the ‘60s we had a song, “One Tin Soldier.” It went something like “Listen people to a story that was written long ago, ’bout a kingdom on a mountain and the valley folks below. On the mountain was a treasure hidden deep beneath a stone, and the valley people swore they’d have it for their very own.
“Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend. Do it in the name of heaven, You can justify it in the end. there won’t be any trumpets blowing, come the judgment day, on the bloody morning after One tin soldier rides away.
“Now the valley cried with anger, ‘Mount your horses, draw your swords and they killed the mountain people, So they won their just rewards Now they stood before the treasure on the mountain dark and red turned the stone and looked beneath it peace on earth, was all it said.”
It does say a bit more to us Christians. “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world, is full of trickery. Let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. Do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of God, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. Whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
The mystery was made known to me by revelation. It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his dedicated apostles and Navy by the Spirit: that the crowds are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. We have elected a version of Nero mixed with Caligula for president. Times are dark. The world is a sham full of drudgery and broken dreams. Still, we must keep our focus. The valley folk below are after our wealth, but our wealth is, or at least ought to be offered to the world free. Our wealth is Jesus Christ, and we need to Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, we need to be on good terms with all persons. We need offer our prize placidly. St. Francis, the Patron Saint of our Franciscans also taught us to go placidly, to preach the gospel, and if necessary to use words.
Remember, our Gospel for the Feast of the Epiphany is the story of the wise men. They come to Jerusalem and meet the conservative politicians of their time. They meet the king, the president of their time. He sends them off to find his replacement. It would not take an Einstein to figure out where they are in the pecking order of things.
There are many like us, liberals, who search for the truth. We look in natural law, the laws of science, the ways things are, and from that search to find the eternal truths of God. We know that the conservatives start with dogma, and then strive to make reality meet those truths. We know they put themselves in the position of God, deciding what will be true and what will not be true. We listen to the Desiderata’s truth and that of the Gospel, “Many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.” “I have been most zealous for the NAME, the God of the procession of heaven, but the Israelites have forsaken your Brit. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.” “I will spare seven thousand in Israel—every knee that has not bent to Baal, every mouth that has not kissed him.” Elijah thinks he is the only one, but there are seven thousand others.
They listen to the advice of the Desiderata. ‘Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. Let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love.” They know of Herod’s trickery. They also know about the trickery of Herod’s prophets, the Pharisees. Let us also listen to their trickery. Jesus is found in the House of Bread in the country of Judah/Eucharist and is found in a feeding trough. He is found in the Mass.
They also know of the virtues of the shepherds, in the humility of Mary and Joseph who go placidly amidst all of the petty politics, or the princes and of the nobles/the business owners. They find the beauty of the world in the infant Jesus in a feeding trough. There are many of us. The task at hand is to assemble, to go placidly, and to bring our reward to the world. There is no room for saying there are no leaders. Be the leader. Be the ripple in the world. Find the twenty-year-olds of the world, develop them in our colleges and universities to be the seven thousand, the future political, economic, and religious leaders. Then go out to heal and transform the world.