By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Monday, January 9, 2017

Need to be De-Iced?

I'm writing this post as I watch the de-icing machines clear away snow and ice from the wings of our plane before we take off. In fact, the de-icing is occurring IN ORDER that we can take off. Ah, winter travel. Gotta love it.

As I watch the process I'm thinking of the Gospel passage for yesterday's celebration of the Epiphany. As the story of the journey of magi to the manger unfolds, it contains an account of a certain de-icing that needs to take place, but in fact doesn't: de-icing not of airplane wings but of the human heart.

King Herod heard the news of the birth of a king. His already cold heart went into deep freeze. No heaven-ward ascent of the spirit in him! He remained solidly frozen to the ground of his worldly and self-centered concerns. His heart had become so solidly encased in the ice of self-reference that he could understand the newborn child only as a threat to his authority and power. His icy self-regard rendered all else expendable, even the innocent children he had slaughtered in his desire to destroy the child born in Bethlehem.

And what about those chief priests and scribes, who learned the news of the birth as Herod consulted them? It seems they could have benefited from some of the de-icing formula as well. The account does not record any effort made on their part to see for themselves what was unfolding in Bethlehem. They were grounded by the ice of indifference. Extraordinary, really. They who knew the prophecies, they who heard that what had been foretold from of old might now be fulfilled, never budged off the tarmac.

All of this raises the very important question of our own response to all that has been proclaimed about Jesus Christ throughout the Christmas season now concluded. The full acceptance of the truth that he is the Son of God made flesh for our salvation causes one's life to soar to unimagined heights of peace, hope and joy. What area of my life needs de-icing? Am I frozen by fear of the change Jesus will ask of me? Does the frost of bitterness grip my heart and freeze out others who seek my forgiveness or whom I must forgive? Has the ice of complacency settled upon me rendering me indifferent to the abundant new life Jesus holds in store?

The glad tidings of Christmas position us for takeoff. By his mercy, may Jesus clear away the ice and thus enable us to follow him.