Hark!

Song of Angels

Song of Angels

“The first Christmas hymn in history, which established for all time the inner melody of Christmas, was not composed by men. Saint Luke transmits it to us as the song of the angels who were the ‘evangelists”’ of Christmas night: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men’—the men who enjoy his favor, the men of good will. This hymn lays down a criterion. It helps us to understand what Christmas is really about. It contains a word that moves people today more than any other single word: peace. The biblical word shalom, which we translate in this way, means much more than the mere absence of war: it tells us that human affairs are as they should be, it denotes well-being, a world in which trust and brotherhood rule, a world without fear or deprivation or cunning or falsehood. Peace on earth—that is the goal of Christmas. But the angels’ song speaks first of a principle without which there cannot be any lasting peace: the glory of God.

If we are concerned about men and their well-being, we must first of all be concerned about the glory of God. The glory of God is not a private matter left to the arbitrary whim of the individual; it is a matter of public concern. It is a common good, and where God is not honored among men, man too cannot be honored. This is why Christmas is about peace among men: thanks to Christmas, the glory of God has been reestablished in a new way among men.”

~   Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

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