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December 19, AD 2011 0 Comments

What has been is what will be,/ and what has been done is what will be done; / and there is nothing new under the sun. / Is there a thing of which it is said, / ‘See, this is new’? / It has been already, / in the ages before us. (Ecc. 1:9-10)

Not to be depressing as Christmas approaches, but these verses hit home sometimes. Probably because I read the news too much, and there is nothing new in the news. Murderers, adulterers, liars, hypocrites, zealots… they’re all there, committing the same sins, speaking the same falsehoods, denouncing the same scapegoats, parroting the same arguments, and suffering the same fates.

It’s a fallen, tired, worn-out world.

And thanks to newspapers, radios, TVs, and the internet, we’re more caught up in it than ever before. We can read about everything in human history and every spot on the globe; we can pore over ancient manuscripts and stare at contemporary photographs. We distract ourselves in the search for novelty while we’re starving for lack of hope.

Then Advent begins, and prophets fill the liturgy with a cacophony of warnings, demands, and promises. Make straight the way of the Lord. Obey his laws. He will come in power and glory, and call his people to account. He will turn the world upside down, humbling the proud and exalting the lowly, vindicating his servants, restoring creation to his divine plan.

Naturally, these prophecies led the Jews to expect a noble and royal figure. He would conquer and reign, like kings of old. He would be someone to whom they could bow down. Someone they would be proud to follow. Someone who would crush their oppressors and give them power.

But for some reason, that’s not quite what happened. From Flannery O’Connor:

God told the world he was going to send it a king and the world waited. The world thought, a golden fleece will do for His bed. Silver and gold and peacock tails, a thousand suns in a peacock’s tail will do for his crib. His mother will ride on a four-horned white beast and use the sunset for a cape. She’ll trail it behind her over the ground and let the world pull it to pieces, a new one every evening.

Jesus came on cold straw, Jesus was warmed by the breath of an ox. “Who is this?” the world said. “Who is this blue-cold child and this woman, plain as the winter? Is this the Word of God, this blue-cold child? Is this His will, this plain winter-woman?” The world said, “Love cuts like the cold wind and the will of God is plain as the winter.”

He has done something new. Do you not perceive it?

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Anna Williams is an editorial page intern at a major newspaper and a recent graduate of Hillsdale College. She likes reading books, writing letters, and exploring all things Catholic.[/author_info] [/author]

About the Author:

Anna Williams is a junior fellow at First Things magazine, a former Collegiate Network fellow at USA TODAY, and a recent graduate of Hillsdale College.