Since the world didn’t explode, many of us celebrated the most recognized holiday in human history, Christmas. We toiled over lists, waited in long shopping lines, and exchanged both gifts and pleasantries. I am certain that holiday cheer abounded, and many still bask in the afterglow of the season.
If it was to have been the end of the world, this probably wasn’t the worst way to go. Maybe the Earth didn’t explode or get vaporized by an on-coming comet; although maybe, as T.S. Eliot wrote, the world for some did end this month, “not with a bang… but a whimper.”
We’ve experienced a terrible tragedy this Christmas season, reminiscent of Herod’s assault on the children of Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus; a horror described by the prophet Jeremiah as “a weeping that refuses all comfort.” I will resist any kind of temptation to make sense of our current tragedy in Newtown because if such an event can appear in the first Christmas—at the very birthplace of the Messiah— then I see no reason to believe we are going to be immune to suffering.