Here are some of the themes I had meant to develop more completely over the course of Christmas, before time got away from me. Last ones later, or tomorrow.
For the 7th day:Fear
Fear is an inescapable element of human life, particularly the ethical life. Our will-to-good is constricted by fear. Our vocation to love is menaced by anxiety. We are afraid of the unknown, of our weaknesses, of sickness, poverty, violence, pain and death; of loneliness, failure and abandonment. We are afraid of being out of control, afraid of the past and the future, of danger natural and supernatural.
It has to do with the contingency and precariousness of our lives. No philosophy or religion can be adequate that does not deal with the pervasive reality of fear.
It is thematized in the Christmas story, beginning with the Angels' announcements to Zechariah and Mary: "Don't be afraid." The Shepherds "were sore afraid." At Christmastime, fear is met with divine consolation. We are not in entire control of our destiny, but God is, and He has plans of love and redemption for us.
For the 8th day: Exile
Another aspect of universal human experience is a sense of exile. We are not at home, not where we belong, not where we yearn to be, nor where we are free to be ourselves. That dimension of personal existence, too, is captured at Christmastime. Joseph and Mary are sent from home by political decree; there is no room at the inn; nowhere for the Son of Man to lay his head. Later, they have to flee to Egypt. Jesus is not wanted by his own. And for this suffering, too, we are deeply consoled with the sense of its profound meaningfulness. Persons are made for God and for eternity; earth and time don't satisfy us fully, because the true dimensions of personal existence lie beyond both