I repeat a post for 2022. It seems most appropriate with all the happenings around the world.
The phrase In Hoc Anno Domini refers to the conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus. Every year, on Christmas Eve, the Wall Street Journal reprints an editorial under that title written for its pages in 1949 by Vermont Royster. It doesn’t mention Christmas per se, but is perhaps the most striking Christmas message of all. I commend it to you here.
It tells the story of Saul of Tarsus and his experiences on the road to Damascus. It reminds us that at that time the entire known world was at peace, but at what cost. There were no wars, the legions were in place to keep order. There was stability, the long arm of Rome and its enforcers ensured that. Sure there was oppression, but you could be spared that if you were friends of Caesar. But the entire world was enslaved. As Royster put it: “What was a man but to serve Caesar.”
There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?
Sound familiar? Tyrants have through the ages impressing their will on people everywhere. But something was different during the reign of Tiberius Caesar. A presence from Galilee, who preached to his followers for only about three years. A presence that struck so much fear in Rome that the word came out that he must be silenced. And so he was.
But Paul of Tarsus heard his words on that dusty road to Damascus and he was frightened. He knew the power of the dark forces that ruled the land. He feared the return of those forces…
Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets. Then might it come to pass that men would not look upward to see even a winter’s star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.
And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galatians, the words he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
All of us here at Parking Today wish all of you the most Merry of Christmases.