HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes
Recently I watched the original 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street, the tear jerking Christmas film. Its celebration of the generosity of the human spirit typifies the hopeful era in which it was made, a time uncorrupted by corrosive cynicism.
A leading character in the film, the lawyer Fred Gailey, declares that “faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.” He is referring to a court case involving Kris Kringle, a department store Father Christmas who believes he’s the real thing – but the significance of his argument is that what we feel is what matters. Faith, beyond empirical proof, can be real.
Thinking of faith, I reflected upon the words of T.S Eliot who wrote “faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”
One of the most damaging notions of our time is the orthodox assumption that man is rational; that thought subsumes feeling; that reason trumps all. For the adherents to the orthodoxy there is no place for the darkness or waiting of which Eliot understood.
It is the acceptance of the fall from grace, and all its consequences, which inform me. People’s lot, their fortune, is by no means all of their own making. Which is why the fortunate have a God given responsibility for those less so. Every constituency MP must know this through those they meet and those they help. Care for others and the generosity it spawns are the antithesis of the selfish materialism and lonely individualism that hallmark too much of modern life.
It is easy – and understandable- to become preoccupied with material matters at Christmas (after all, who doesn’t like receiving presents, enjoying sumptuous food and spending relaxing time with friends and family?) but it remains a time of year for feeling; when we can appreciate our loved ones, share hope for the future and give to those in need.
The combination of faith in heartfelt loyalties and faith in our power to ameliorate human frailty with a charitable view of those who suffer are the Christian virtues that underpin a just society. Let us pray that the coming year is one where faith, hope and charity truly triumph.