"[T]o give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God by which the daybreak from on high will visit us to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace" (Luke 1:77-79).
I faced away from her in the car as she continued to explain her new nuanced theology, her agnostic beliefs, her assuredness that what I believed was . . . not for her anymore. My face was hot and my stomach tight.
She kept driving up and down the hills, in and out of the canyons, until we reached my apartment in the foothills of Red Rock Mountain. I bit the inside of my mouth so hard it was raw and generally wanted to just fall out of the gold Chevy Caprice Classic. We got our to-go food containers up the stairs, into the small fridge, and laid out on the futon covered with a granny square afghan my grandma had made for me at birth.
If I only had had a degree in theology, I could have convinced her. If only I had known every response to every doubt.
But what I really wish I had known then, and I know now, is that Saint John the Baptist was coming to share the news of God's tender mercy, the daybreak to shine on those who sit in darkness, the guide for the path of peace. He may have been fierce and wild, but the real shock of this message is that we repent out of love.
If you're facing family and loved ones with whom you've parted ways theologically this Christmas, take a good long listen to today's reading in Luke 1:67-79. Tap into that evangelizing love of the Lord, and be steadfast in knowing it's God's love for them that will bring them home, not a lecture or dissertation defense from you. Shine out His mercy, love, and peace.
Happy Almost-Birthday, Sweet Baby Jesus! Invite a friend, go to Mass yourself, find the times and locations near you here.
Nell O'Leary is a recovering lawyer turned blogger, speaker, and sewer of baby goods while tending to her husband and four kiddos in the great city of Saint Paul, Minnesota. She serves as Managing Editor for Blessed is She and can down a hot cocoa in no time flat. Find out more about her here. She is the editor of our Blessed Conversations Series and guide for the Gift of You course.