Christmas 1 – Year A
In the back of comic books, in days of yore, they used to sell X-Ray Glasses that would let you look through that which you consider to be in your way of seeing what you wanted to see. Mostly that barrier was clothing.
Hormonally that has a built in appeal for adolescent boys to see through dresses (the dress of that day) and glimpse naked girls.
Relationally it has an appeal that we can get to the reality of the person under all the masks they have put on.
Here, Praise is the equivalent of X-Ray Glasses. Praise allows us to see behind any phenomenon to some early creator. In so seeing we are made part of the powerful (yet another appeal) who are raised up and become close or equivalent to God.
While practicing praise can increase the odds that it will be a first response to any number of circumstances, there remains a question about its sustainability over the long haul. It doesn't take long to figure out the gimmick of X-Ray Glasses and to set them aside. It does take longer to figure out the gimmick of Praise. Both are good for the bottom-line of their originators and leave their practitioners with a faint distaste – is this all there is?
To praise God in the face of Herod and contemporary Slaughterers of Innocents is questionable. When Acts of Piety, such as required praise, trump Acts of Mercy there is going to be hell to pay.
Perhaps the next time around we will rejoice in being able to rejoice in all things, but the context of intentional inflicting of pain doesn't let us travel that path this time.