Sunday, December 24, 2006

2006 Christmas Eve Reflection

I am guessing many of you will assist at the Christmas Mass at "Midnight" (how sad this happens so infrequently anymore). The proclamation of the narrative of the Incarnation according to St. Luke (2:1-14) is the only one of the three synoptic Gospels where details are made known. As the first Christian "historian," Luke strives to be as accurate as possible in the telling of the event.

I have heard of homilist using the technique of putting yourself in the story. So, to those who read this entry, my question to you is simple. As you hear or recall it, ask yourself this:

Who are you in the beginning of the "greatest story ever told"?

Are you Caesar Augustus or Quirinius? You have some position of authority in the world on some level, in some small capacity. Somehow, you rule. Perhaps news of this birth and its circumstance has reached your ears; but, with your status of "eliteness," you quite don't know what to do with it. Dismiss it? Investigate it? Leave it to Herod?

How does it affect you?

Are you one of the myriads who went "each to his own town"? Wanting to be an individual, you still are lost in the crowd. You follow along, sometimes going along just to get along. You are just a number to someone. You hear of this story as well. It awakens echoes of what you were taught as you studied your religion.

How does it affect you?

Are you Joseph? Caught between doing what is right and doing the right thing, which are not necessarily one and the same, you perhaps trust your head too much and your heart not nearly enough. Yet, you do what is your duty to God and others in a spirit of obedience and loyalty. You are right in the middle of this tale. Intimately.

How does it affect you?

Are you Mary? Somehow having to endure the physical challenges of pregnancy, you also have "to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" brought about by your saying "yes". The echoes of "how can this be" reverberate with every action. Yet, you are consoled by the words of Gabriel and Elizabeth as well as what you carry deep within your body and soul. You are even more in the middle of this tale; in fact, it wouldn't have gone forward without your assent.

How does it affect you?

Are you the innkeeper who couldn't provide room for even one more traveler? You are not mean-spirited in any way, shape, form, or regard. Your accommodations were stretched to the limit and perhaps beyond. Practicality had to take precedence. Perhaps, many years later, you heard a rabbi tell a parable involving another innkeeper in a small way and thought, "Was this directed at me from way back then and when?"

How does it affect you?

Are you one of the shepherds to whom the angels spoke? Considered somewhat outcasts in society, in a job nobody with any "dignity" would want, you wonder in your night watches where your place is in the world. Your reputation is soiled somewhat by "the company you keep," others who are only hired help and not true keepers of the flock. The "glorias" you hear that night ring in your ears and your hearts.

How does it affect you?

The answer to the repeated question is the same, no matter who you are. "'Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us.'" (Luke 2:15b)

Venite adoramus, Dominum.

Hodie Christus natus est.

This should be our response when we meet the newborn King. We should welcome the Christ Child with open arms and open hearts. He does nothing less.
The Word was made flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we have seen his glory: The glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love.

John 1:14
But the better question is not who are we at the beginning of the story.

It is who we are at the end.

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