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A Christmas message:
the sword of cleavage –  Herod vs. Christ

by Rev. Howard Ray Car

In the gospel according to Matthew we read how king Herod sent his soldiers to Bethlehem in an attempt to find and destroy the infant Jesus (instrument of the Christ). Why did he try this dastardly deed? Because Herod had been told that the Christ was to be king. And that paranoid old monarch would tolerate no threat to his own selfish reign.

This of course is a parable or allegory of the battle which rages at some time, or times, within each human being. The 'Herod' of our lower nature organizes fierce battles against the developing Christ consciousness. For this personality nature ---- with its lusts, its fears, its rage and its pride ---- is afraid that the Christ power of love and wisdom is indeed destined to gain the upper hand in our life. Thus these dark aspects of our life will have to be banished or transformed, their 'turf' and their reign in our system handed over to the inner Christ. How threatened these old rulers become! For they have been in command so very long ---- through so many lives ---- that they will not easily give up our entrenched habits. They work up a storm of sound and fury. Or so I have found it to be in my life.

But when they do surrender to the light, love and joy of the Christ nature, what glorious transformation takes place! Lust is replaced by love; fear by trust; resentment by goodwill; and pride melts into joyous humility and confidence. Then, like the prodigal son, we know that 'we have come to ourselves' and are joyfully on our way home to the Father's House, the eternal Monad or Spirit within.

So let us give heed to this question: are our thoughts, utterances, and deeds at times giving aid and comfort to the old 'Herod' nature (which is sometimes called the 'shadow' or the 'Dweller on the Threshold')?  Or are we succeeding in our effort to help the Christ power to take increasing control of all aspects of our nature?

Truly this is an urgent question. For the Christ has duly warned us: ''He who is not with me is against me. And he who gathers not, scatters.'' (Matthew 12:30)

What? Is there no neutral ground? Well, if there is, it is in the process of yielding rapidly either to Christ or Herod; to the Angel of the Presence or the fiendish old Dweller on the Threshold. Probably all of us who ponder on such thoughts as these would like to yield all to the Christ, if it just didn't take so much Herculean effort. Why are our old habits of thought, words, and ways of behavior so stubborn?  Why does it take such dedication and devotion and power of will to change them?  Maybe it is because of their long entrenched rule.  For so long they have reigned with such power.   And, as we have been told so many times, 'power corrupts'.

An indication of such corruption may be found in some desire on our part, conscious or unconscious, to cling to the old selfish pleasures we know so well. Sometimes we want to take another fling at the old indulgences: like pleasure, prejudice, pride and personal power. Sometimes there is a hidden fear that when Christ takes control in us our treasures of tinsel and baubles ---- which still glitter like false gold ---- will be snatched from us. So we are afraid we will stand bereft of life's richness.

How deeply glamoured we have become in thus clinging to the old, empty treasure pouches of the past. Could we but see clearly, we would know that, when Christ rules in our lives, the tinsel will be transmuted into pure gold; the turbulent emotions of fear and rage transformed into serenity and bliss; and the proud towers of separative thought converted into the true citadel for the expression of the ruling Spirit or Monad. What a transformation, what joy, what victory! Truly it awaits us all when we are ready for it.

How then do we strengthen the forces of Christ within us ---- and induce the old negative powers to yield? Since we are approaching the mystic season of Christmas, let us look at some of the symbols connected with this new birth. For they can have deep meaning within us for our transformation. Some of these characters and events are related to us in the gospel according to Luke, others in Matthew. They have esoteric meaning for us when we learn to look at them as aspects of an important drama unfolding within us.

Let us think of Joseph as representing our concrete mind; Mary as a symbol of our heart center ---- where the New Birth or first initiation is said to take place. We can think of the watching shepherds as disciples who are awake to the heavenly music or angel songs within. And the Magi as Great Beings who always are present to help usher into our lives the Christ life and power.

In our inner pilgrimage from the reign of Herod to that of Christ, let us proceed without delay to our Bethlehem. We are not to think it beneath our dignity to enter the stable of the domestic animals, and thus make provision for the Christ consciousness to be born in the lowly level of our physical or animal nature. Are we ready to listen to those awakened disciples who hear and heed the angel song of peace, of goodwill, and the good news of sharing?  If so, we can welcome the three kings or Magi, the three aspects of our inner divinity ---- light, love and will or power, the sovereigns of our own being which follow the Christmas star of initiation or New Birth which shines out above us as soon as we are ready.  Let us gladly accept their proffered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh ---- not for our little selves, but as treasures to pour out in sharing with the needy world.  Then we need to let Joseph, the rational mind, transport us far from Herod's jealous reach to the Egypt of life's inner mysteries; where the Christ life in us can grow to full maturity ---- as St. Paul puts it: ''unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.''

Thus, when we dwell in the Christ consciousness, His love and wisdom will be able to find expression through us. In this crucial hour of humanity's need, let us renew our dedication to the divine Plan. Then through creative meditation, right speech, wise action and true sharing we can do our part. In this way we may stand assured that the 'ounces of our weight' and the power of our love will really assist in banishing the Herods of our day (and of our own lives).  Thus we can really count, by helping to bring in the reign of Christ ---- the way of love, justice, and sharing ---- to include all our sisters and brothers on this space-ship earth. Let us rejoice, and let the angel chorus resound within us.

This article is a chapter from The Joy of Christ's Coming This book by the late Rev. Howard Ray Carey was published by Share International Foundation in 1988. It is not currently available in hard copy form. Copyright © Share International Foundation.  Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard version unless otherwise indicated. 

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005