Oppression

 

Fr. Frank Pavone

 
  12/2/2002
 

My favorite verse of the hymn "O Holy Night" says, "Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love, and His Gospel is peace. Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name, all oppression shall cease."

Oppression. Like that which daily enslaves our brothers and sisters still growing in the womb.

The source of all oppression is sin, rebellion against God and His will. In Christmas, oppression is broken precisely because in Christ, God and sinners are reconciled. Evil at its root is conquered. Yet the victory is still unfolding. The kingdom has come, yet we still pray, "Thy Kingdom Come!" Jesus has saved us, yet we still pray, "Lord, save us!" This is not a contradiction. It is simply the reality that the Kingdom is growing, and God gives us a part to play in its growth.

What is our part? We are called to allow the victory Christ has won to shape our lives and our society. We fight sin, we strive for virtue, we seek to build unity, justice and peace.

Hence, all oppression must cease.

To welcome the good news that "A Savior is born for us," is to welcome the very power that does save us from sin and oppression, and to allow it to save us. To welcome the Savior is also to accept the obligation to participate with Him in saving others. The love Christ shows us in His birth places a burden on us: as He intervenes to save us, we are to intervene to save one another. He came to stand between us and our oppressors, and it brought Him to the cross. Celebrating Christmas indicates our willingness to stand between our neighbors and their oppressors. When we welcome our Savior, we welcome their Savior.

Nothing is more oppressive than abortion. No form of slavery has ever been worse in all human history. No assertion is more degrading than to say one is a non-person, a non-entity, whose life is not recognized and whose death does not count. So bold is this evil, in fact, that it not only destroys the unborn, but seeks to punish those who try to save them.

So be it. We will accept the task; we will share the burden. "In His name, all oppression shall cease." We will participate in liberating our unborn brothers and sisters. We are the people who have heard the good news of the angels: "A Savior has been born for you, who is Christ the Lord!" We will not be merely hearers of the Word. We will not celebrate a superficial Christmas that seeks the joys of the season but doesn't strive for the victories of the season. We will not be people who proclaim that a Savior has come, but who do nothing to save anybody. Rather, we will commit ourselves to fight and end all oppression, as we welcome the coming of the One who is Life.