Robert Kinghorn

Robert Kinghorn

Robert Kinghorn is a deacon of the Archdiocese of Toronto.

You can read his column, "The Church on the Street" in The Catholic Register.

You can contact him at robert.kinghorn@ekinghorn.com

At school I was told that before the advent of radio and television, the great novelists such as Charles Dickens would write their books to be read around the fireplace in the evening. In so doing they would make their chapters short enough for an evening’s read and closed with a cliff-hanger.

I have always wondered about the names they choose for sports teams: the Vikings, the Giants, the Predators. Vicious sounding names that strike fear into the hearts of the opposition.

Often, we do not see the softer side of people’s nature as they put up a facade of toughness and independence. This is especially true on the streets where the law of the street is, “Don’t show weakness, don’t show compassion.”

It was a different time and a different crisis, but in the small village of Bronte, Ont., work was hard to come by in the early 1950s.

Driving downtown, the weather forecast came on the radio: “The temperature tonight is expected to plummet to a low of minus-14 degrees with a windchill factor making it feel like minus-25. The health department has issued a warning that at these temperatures frostbite to exposed skin can occur within minutes.”

I was driving to Nova Scotia with my wife Ria several years ago when we stopped at a garden centre. Since I cannot tell a weed from a wallflower, I hung out in the knickknack section where people can find garden signs that say things like, “I don’t remember planting this.”

As I write this it is the feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28), the memorial day for children who endured the wrath of King Herod as he set out to ensure that the Light of the World would never be allowed to shine in the darkness of his kingdom. As it was 2,000 years ago, so it often is today. 

I’m sitting in the shadow of a Christmas tree weighed down with lights and finery, while a stuffed teddy bear with a beguiling smile sits patiently at the base watching me through button eyes. It could be one of countless Christmas trees anywhere in the world, but this one holds special meaning for myself and the young lady sitting next to me. 

Jesus said that we are called to be the light of the world and the salt of the Earth. But to be honest, some evenings on the street I just feel lightly salted. 

There is a sense that protection is required when we step out into the unknown darkness of life, whether it be the darkness of suffering or of a lifestyle tinged with fear and regret. Traditionally the Church has called upon the angelic hosts for such protection. 

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