Let us live in peace, so far as is possible, in the Kingdom born before the foundation of the Earth, but fully revealed in the Nativity of the King.
Do not cease from mental fight, but in hard times first turn to self-examination: the spiritual warfare that Scripture commends. Only then can we, first doing no harm, seek justice with mercy in our communities.
We pray, as Jesus taught us: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in Earth as it is in Heaven.” We also know that the Kingdom has come on Earth and in Heaven.
How is this?
We have a divine King, but we the subjects are not yet as we should be.
This is not a democracy, Jesus is Lord, King of Kings. There will be twelve apostles sitting on thrones, far beyond the reach of human resource departments. The Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, wields charity as she turns the world Godward. This is not a culture of celebrity: those chosen by God are the meek, the lowly, the forgotten. Rahab, Bathsheba, and Mary all were not accounted worthy by the powerful, but became part of the royal lineage of the Kingdom.
Keeping this in mind is hard. Nobody is immune to the temptations of power. As the bottom is transformed to the top, the bottom can gain the very vices that destroyed those formerly in positions of authority. We pray for mercy and look to God.
Bethlehem did not open the door to individualism, but to a gathering, a church, that is part of this loving Kingdom. Power kneels to charity, but Divine Love pursues justice with this power. We become who we should be when we see ourselves as part of these dual communities, Kingdom and Church: one pursuing mercy, the other justice, both bound by absolute charity. This works out very imperfectly now when visible, so we pray that the Kingdom more fully come on Earth as it is in Heaven.
This is why the work of the church, the liturgy, must and has changed and developed so slowly. Any generation shares in the work and should and does leave small contributions building on that edifice, but not to exclude the work of past generations. The family is extended (even in time) and often includes an entire village or city neighborhood. Nobody should be alone. Nobody should be forgotten, even if centuries dead, because the family should extend and take in anyone who might be lonely.
Bethlehem did open the Heavens to our view of the glory of God and peace, goodwill to mankind.
When we work to save the lives of unborn children, to feed the poor, to find dignified work for all people, when Americans fight for racial equality, we are seeking justice that is a reflection of this vision of the Heavens. There all people gather and find a place in the righteous hierarchy of Heaven where the King cannot be bribed or fooled and where all is decided based on beauty: the pattern of redeemed creation.
Living this way is humbling, because we must love our enemies, even love ourselves (!), and seek justice with mercy. These feast days, and we are only in the third (!), are a time for renewal for that work.
Blessed Third Day of Christmas!