Someone recently told me a story about a little boy — maybe like 3 or 4 years old — who came to Christmas mass with his family. And right in the middle of a beautiful hymn — a beautiful, religious, holy, Christmas hymn… this little boy started joyfully belting out at the top of his lungs: “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer…”
And of course, the little boy’s parents were mortified — they were so embarrassed! And frantically, they said to the boy: “Hey cut that out! That’s not a church song! Why are you singing that?!” And the little boy replied: “Sorry Mom and Dad! I just wanted to sing… but I didn’t know any of these other songs… so I decided to sing a song I did know.”
Now obviously this is a very cute story. But I think it can teach us an important life lesson as we once again celebrate Christmas together.
Because when it comes to the meaning of life — the purpose of life — we really should all be singing the same song. To be more specific, we should all be playing different parts of the same song.
And we should be learning how to sing this song very well… together. In harmony with one another.
What do I mean by this? What does it mean to “sing well?”
Ok — To “sing well” means to live in tune with — in rhythm — with God. As Saint Augustine once put it: “Let us sing a new song not with our lips but with our lives.”
And what song should we ALL be singing together with our lives?
The original Christmas song!!! (No, it’s not Mariah Carey All I Want for Christmas)
It’s the song the angel’s sang at the birth of Jesus! — “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of goodwill.”
These words should be very familiar to us. We sing them at the beginning of every single Sunday mass, except during the seasons of Advent and Lent. Maybe they go in one ear and out the other…
But when it comes down to it, THIS is the song we all need to sing if we want to be in tune with God and with one another!
This is the song we need to learn how to sing well! …Not just with our lips, but with our entire lives!
GLORY to God! In Hebrew, the word for “glory” literally means “weight.” Give weight… Give importance… Give EVERYTHING you got to God!
This is what we were made for. And it’s what makes us happy!
We are supposed to give glory to God in the highest… not to ourselves.
We give glory to the Lord… not to our own ideas and plans.
We give glory to God by the way we live, the way we love…
We give glory to the Son of God… who though He was God from God and Light from Light… humbled himself to share in our humanity.
Hark the herald angels sing… GLORY to the newborn King!
It’s only when we learn to sing THIS song with our whole lives that we can ever have true peace. (Together: “GLORY to the newborn King.”)
As St. Paul says in our second reading: “The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the GLORY of our great God and savior Jesus Christ!”
The grace and the glory of God has appeared for EVERYONE… Jesus was born in a manger on Christmas for EVERYONE.
So they could live their life in a whole new way — a transformed way! So they could learn how to sing well… not only for Christmas, but forever!
But here’s the real challenge: There is so much noise in today’s world. So much discord and division. So much BAD MUSIC that distracts us and causes us pain and anxiety!
And often enough, instead of singing “Glory to God in the highest” with our whole heart, soul, and mind… we choose to fill our hearts and minds with all this “bad music” …music that goes against the song of Heaven! Against the song of the angels on Christmas night! We freely choose do things that do not glorify God, and cause us to lose our peace!
We call this “bad music” sin… and it poisons us. It makes us sad, lonely, and out of rhythm with God. It stunts our growth as human beings!
I was shocked to learn recently that scientific studies have been done on plants where some were planted in a room with noisy, violent, discordant music and others with calm, beautiful, classical music. The plants in the noisy room ended up trying to grow AWAY from the speakers! They didn’t grow right. They didn’t flower. They got sick…
That’s what happens to us when we are filled with “bad music!”
But here’s the VERY good news… here’s the CHRISTMAS message:
God sent His Son Jesus into the noise. Into the bad music of this world! He took on human flesh in order to save us. As our first reading from the prophet Isaiah put it: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” — They’ve heard a brand new song!
And all the noise of the world cannot conquer this beautiful and life-giving music of Heaven! — “Glory to God in the highest!” No circumstance, no challenge can prevent us from singing… Just think of Mary and Joseph! They trusted God and kept singing their song! They never stopped!!!
The question we need to ask now is this: Are we gonna sing the song of heaven? Or are we gonna try singing our own song? Will we learn to live in tune with… in rhythm with Jesus the newborn King, or will we just join in with all the noise?
Tomorrow, the rest of the world will move on from Christmas. The constant jangling of carols will fall silent. …What about us?
As we approach the Eucharist today… As we come near again to the manger and adore our little Savior… let’s resolve to really start singing with our whole lives: “Glory to God in the highest.”