DECEMBER 25, 1950
HYDE PARK, Sunday—This is a far from happy Christmas, but I am not sure that something may not be salvaged from the depth of our anxiety.
People will turn more than they have in the past to the consolation of religion and the spiritual meaning of Christmas. This was the day on which the Child was born whose short span of years was to give the world an ideal towards which they would strive forever. To the shepherds, on this night, the angels gave their message of rejoicing that a child was born to bring peace and goodwill on earth. The Wise Men were told that this extraordinary event had come to pass and they went to pay homage as He lay a helpless baby, watched over by His mother in a stable where a manger was His bed.
The story of the New Testament is the story of His life and teachings. Christ taught from his early youth. He is still teaching each and everyone of us today.
The trouble has always been on the receiving line. Too many of us gave lip service to the spirit of Christlike living, but when it actually comes to carrying out His mandates, they are too often forgotten. As a result, over and over again, mankind has paid the price in war and destruction and now it looks as though that price might have to be paid all over again just as many countries are beginning to rehabilitate themselves, feed their people properly, and house them with greater dignity than ever before.
If we are forced by the difficulties of these times to think of the solemn religious meaning of the story of the Christ Child and less of St. Nicholas, I think much good may be derived, even from our present anxieties.
What are we to do in the future? Who can tell? What should we be preparing for? Nobody knows.
The only thing that any of us can prepare is our own spirit.
We can determine to live with uncertainty calmly, to look upon each day as one more gift from God in which we may still be able to do something of benefit to our fellow men, to face the fact that annihilation may await any or all of us and to realize that there is no escape, nowhere on the face of the earth that any of us can hide.
There is no possibility of saving ourselves at the expense of others. There is only the chance that God will bring about one of His miracles—if each one of us turns to Him this Christmas Eve with gratitude for His gift of the example of Jesus Christ on earth, with humbleness and a full realization of our own shortcomings, and a willingness to go on striving to attain peace on earth, goodwill to men.
Perhaps that will be God's ultimate gift to His unworthy children.