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Editor’s Note: Cutting Through the Noise

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This year has been one packed with a cacophony of sound. There’s the bigger-picture noise: the dire warnings and subsequent mourning related to the ongoing global pandemic; the presidential election and ever-increasing polarization and ugliness we hurl at one another on social media; the ripping sounds of hurricanes tearing through the homes and property of those we love across the country. And, on a more personal and domestic front, the sheer volume in our home with four children desperately trying to entertain themselves or participate in virtual learning while their parents hunker down and attempt to work.

It’s been a loud, painful and exhausting year… so much so, that even uttering the word “2020” draws its share of knowing, sad, heavy acknowledgments from those around us. It’s even become a joke: “Not another month of 2020!” And while I can appreciate the gallows humor, what if we attempted to turn the tables on this bleak attitude for Advent?

What if, in place of dread, we instead get to experience another month of 2020, and it’s the best of all? After all, it’s the month where we spend four weeks meditating on and anticipating the birth of our Savior.

Thinking about the Nativity story, I stumbled upon a video of Bishop Robert Barron from 2007 talking about the Gospel of Luke. In it he describes what was happening in the world at the time of Jesus’ birth. Namely, Caesar Augustus was conducting a worldwide census that would ultimately help further his own glory and power. Meanwhile, the true King was born in a stable, alone but for the company of His parents. Amid the noise of the world, our Savior was born in quiet.

“The true King is not the one who has rangy, worldly power,” said Bishop Barron. “The true King is the one who is bound to the other in love, who becomes weak for the sake of the other. Not the one who is well protected in his palazzo, but the one who is willing to become vulnerable in love.”

So how can we cut through the noise this Advent season? How can we become “vulnerable in love”? Perhaps it’s looking at the happy child who’s enjoying the raging noise inside the home; maybe it’s taking a moment to remember a joyful personal experience you shared with the person who just posted a disagreeable political statement online.

But, most importantly, to cut through the noise, we need to focus on what’s to come: a quiet stable in Bethlehem, the ultimate gift from God to His children, the birth of Jesus Christ, vulnerable in love.

“Silent night, holy night / All is calm, all is bright / ‘Round yon virgin Mother and Child / Holy infant so tender and mild / Sleep in heavenly peace / Sleep in heavenly peace.”

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