by Ken Rolheiser
Removing the veil and forever Christmas

I was driving home to visit the family farm one New Year’s Eve. The prairie winter gave me a view of the distant hills, brought closer by the thin, cold atmosphere. Suddenly the scene appeared surreal.

The pavement was black and clear. A sense of well being filled me. All was joy and grace and peace. I had to remind myself of reality. Maybe it was the family visit, maybe it was returning to my faith roots, but this felt like a glimpse of heaven.

A veil separates us from God and from hearing and seeing God. Isaiah promises God will remove this “mourning” veil that covers all people and enwraps all nations. Death will be destroyed forever! (Isaiah 25:7).

You and I witness times when that veil between heaven and earth is so thin, so transparent, that we experience what is on the other side. It is God and Peace and Love! Prayer and visiting with Jesus can get us there.

St Paul says, “Whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed.” (2 Corinthians 3:16). This so clearly explains the joy that Christmas brings to us and to children in particular. One Christmas is all it takes to save the world! 

We bring our sinfulness and Jesus brings us Resurrection. Where once there was a land of eternal winter and no Christmas, Jesus brings eternal spring and a Christmas that never ends. The land of darkness has seen a great light.

In fact, Jesus has changed our world forever. Now it is never after Christmas. It is always Christmas time. Love has replaced judgement and condemnation. His Word lives. His Body and Blood nourish us. We are a people of Light. We are filled with his love.

All old fears are forever gone. Sickness and death, the closed rooms of pain and loneliness, may be around the next corner, but the life of Jesus is now within us. Physical weakness may bow us temporarily, but our hearts are rich and full.

Yes, the veil separating us from God is thin. Let me conclude with two examples I have shared earlier. One of my readers related how she went to visit her friend who was dying of cancer of the lungs. 

As she entered the hospital room she thought, “Oh, is she [ever] suffering.” Just then, in a split second, she could no longer see her friend. She did see the face of Jesus. He was looking down and smiling. His hair was brown and parted in the middle. She felt a great calm and peace.

The second example is related by Father Tony Williams who lay dying of cancer. As he tried to pray, Tony gazed at the crucified Christ. 

Suddenly, “I felt myself drawn into the picture, and I found myself on Calvary … at the moment when Jesus was being crucified. Imagine my shock when one of the soldiers’ faces was mine. And I asked the Lord, ‘Have I been that terrible? Is it possible that my sins are crucifying you?’ And Christ turned to me and said, ‘Tony, whatever they are, your sins are forgiven. My peace I give to you.’”

Then Tony said, “The face, my face, on that soldier disappeared, and I kind of came out of it. And ever since I have found that enormous peace …that Jesus spoke of.” Tony died with a big smile on his face.

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