Thursday, December 31, 2009
What does it mean? At the very least, it is to not regress, lose ground, or acquiesce what I want to become. At its core, it is to progress, grow, mature.
It is now four years later. I ask myself the question which candidates for political office sometimes pose to the voting public. It is the one quiery which begs for an answer.
Am I better off now than I was then?
Right now, I really don't know what the best answer is. Being my harshest critic (unlike the advise from "Desiderata"), I also realize I have to have a balance between what is going well and what room for improvement is needed. But, as a priest had pointed out to me once in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, my honesty is my salvation.
While I have never experienced the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, I understand one of the foundations is to be sincerely honest while looking into your soul. That I seem to do well. And so, with the final hours of 2009 passing, what do I see?
As with all of us, a mixed bag of results.
The blessings given by God to me in the form of challenges the past 48 months have been received in various degrees. I would be foolish to say I am the same as I was back then. I have changed. There has been the good, the bad, and the unresolved (and sometimes all three at once). It is still being sorted; puzzle pieces are not yet in place. I cannot say which way the scale is tipped.
Yet, we all live with uncertainty. Nothing is finished or final until our last day. Like the Parable of the Rich Man's Harvest (Luke 12:16-21), beware when we think we have got it made.
At times it seem I am back at square one. My search for meaningful, consistent, gainful employment is just about at a standstill. My prayer life is as dry as the desert. There is just a underlying feeling of unease about my life.
So, where do I go?
There is only one answer:
"Come to Me...."
And isn't that what it really means to Go Forward?
Friday, December 25, 2009
Oh, dearest little Child,
I come before You tonight
As You first came before the world
So long ago and so far away.
You came to bring "Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men."
You came to be "The Way, the Truth, and the Light."
You came "So men might have Life
And have it to the fullest."
I come before you tonight in homage;
But I am not like the Magi,
Nor am I like one of the shepherds
That first came to see You.
I am nothing without You
And little more when You are near.
For I am a servant not good enough
For a Master such as You.
I come not bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh,
But, instead, bring something to You
That You first gave to the world,
And now I wish to return.
I give to You tonight, as You have given to me,
The strength, the courage, the wisdom, the peace,
The faith, the hope, and most importantly,
The love You have shown to all mankind.
I give You myself tonight; the best gift I could.
Originally posted 12/25/2005.
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome Him. The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the Heart,
Which we will give Him; and bequeath
This Holly and this Ivy Wreath,
To do Him honor; who's our King,
And Lord of all this Revelling.
by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
May the Christ Child bless you at this holy season.
May His love, joy, and peace fill you.
May He, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, rule the world with Truth and Grace.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tonight, at the Christmas Mass at Midnight, I will have the privilege of chanting the Proclamation of the Birth of Jesus Christ.
I will not be doing the version I traditionally post. Instead I will be doing the currently approved translation. A comparison with other versions can be found here.
May I truly "pray twice" as I intone the announcement of His birth.
All this happened to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin shall be with child and give birth to a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel," a name which means "God is with us."Now, these words are not foreign to the world. Cultures across the globe have similar myths about some god manifesting himself in human form via a pure maiden. What makes this particular story so special, so enduring, so different from the rest?(Matthew 1:22-23; cf Isaiah 7:14)
The promise it holds.
Allow me to delve into these verses and share my insights. I remind everybody I have no formal training in theology or exegesis. Please read this with a big grain of salt.
Let's begin with the phrase "All this happened". In the context of the narrative it refers to the scene where St. Joseph was visited by an angel and told to take the soon-to-be-born Child and His mother under his care. But did not this take place because all "this"--the whole of salvation history from Adam and Eve to this point in time--happened? If it were not for the "happy fault", the "necessary sin of Adam" as proclaimed in the Exultet, all the covenants of the Old Testament, and all the prophecies related to this, especially these words from Isaiah, this moment of encounter between messenger and man would have never taken place.
To me, this is the first part of what makes this virgin birth story so different. As far as I know, while others have tried to explain why there is evil in the world, only this one goes to say that it will be rectified and in this manner. Only this one gives us the hope of salvation and delivers. Why would it not be intriguing?
The next phrase which grabbed my attention was "the virgin". Today's world sneers at the concept of being pure, unadulterated, undefiled, untouched, wholly clean. In an age when humanity wants to experience everything no matter the consequences, this is the one experience of which they want no part. They must like looking at their existence through a lens stained with Original Sin.
Adam and Eve knew better but knew too late. Once they disobeyed, they couldn't see the face of God again. The impure can never look at the pure without realizing what is missing. That's why redemption was promised. That's why a pure vessel in which to carry the Son of God was needed. That's why that singular act of grace known as the Immaculate Conception happened. Mary had to be sanctified before she could receive the Source of sanctity. She became the model and example for the rest of humanity.
This is what make this story so special. We are not left to our own devices. God has promised never to abandon us. He shows us how we are to prepare as He makes His preparations to bring us back into the fold. God still loves us, despite at times how we choose to respond to that Love.
Which brings me to the third phrase upon which I dwell--"God is with us." Emmanuel. God has always been with us, even when we don't want to be with Him. That most radical concept called unconditional love. An idea around which the world cannot wrap its collective head. It fails because the head is not enough. It calls for the heart, the very core of our existence.
Augustinian restlessness, damaged but never destroyed by the Fall, is the energy which drives us to seek what we lost in Paradise. We search for it in everything created, but never in the Creator where it will be found. So to make it easier, God comes to dwell with us in a form we recognize--our own humanity. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, fully divine, became fully human because we relate to persons. And it is in that relationship where redemption is fulfilled.
That's what makes this story so enduring. In the Greatest Story Ever Told, we are invited to partake in the Greatest Love Story Ever Told. Made in the image and likeness of our Triune God, we are called to reflect the love indwelling in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by our love for Him and our neighbor. We are only able to do this by the example Jesus Christ show us by His life, death, and resurrection.
While we celebrate His coming as man once a year, He has always been among us.
Let us truly "see our God made visible" and so be "caught up in love of the God we cannot see."
Hodie Christus natus est.
Enjoy my previous Christmas Eve Reflections:
A Christmas Carol, Sung to the King in the Presence at White-Hall
What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a Carol, for to sing.
The Birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the Voice! Awake the String!
Heart, Ear, and Eye, and every thing
Awake! the while the active Finger
Runs division with the Singer.
From the Flourish they came to the Song.
Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this Day,
That sees December turn'd to May.
If we may ask the reason, say:
The why, and wherefore all things here
Seem like the Spring-time fo the year?
Why does the chilling Winter's morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell, like to a mead new-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden?
Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
'Tis He is born, whose quick'ning Birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To Heaven and the under-Earth.
We see Him come, and know Him ours,
Who, with His Sun-shine, and His Showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.
The Darling of the World is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome Him.
The nobler part
Of all the house
here, is the Heart,
Which we will give Him; and bequeath
This Holly and this Ivy Wreath,
To do Him honor; who's our King,
And Lord of all this Revelling.
So fitting. A musical offering, in spirit and in truth, of ourselves.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered, "I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!"
Then he said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.Isaiah 7:10-14
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.Matthew 1:18-25
Emmanuel. God is with us. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)
Even though man left God, He never left us. The Word was always there: in the rainbow, the visitors to Abraham, the plagues, the cloud, the manna, the tablets, the ark, the temple, the tiny whispering sound, the speech of the prophets and psalmists, and whatever examples you may find elsewhere in the Old Testament.
- In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe,who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
Echoes of sound and glimmers of light. The faintest sensory perceptions for the soul damaged by Original Sin. Reflections of true reality. All pale in comparison.
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.Emmanuel.John 1:14
God is with us.
God is still with us.
"And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20b)
Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them (as their God).Revelations 21:3
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.
O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!
For further reflection, go here.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; But upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: Your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, For the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered for you, the rams of Nebaioth shall be your sacrifices; They will be acceptable offerings on my altar, and I will enhance the splendor of my house.Isaiah 60:1-7
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage....Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance....After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.Matthew 2:1-2,7,9-11
It was a question which framed the beginning and end of His life.
A question of identity.
"Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." (Matthew 2:2)
Strangers in a strange land, the Magi saw a glimmer of the Light and inquired about to Whom it lead. When told, they were able to hear the Word and find Him, while those who help them wanted to silence the echo. The echo would now grow louder because more would be able to hear it.
"Are you the King of the Jews?" (John 18:33b)
An earthly ruler, feeling threatened by the Word (history does repeat itself, doesn't it?), asked again. He directly heard, but could not respond. In the end, he would help to attempt to silence once and for all the Word.
And even in between those two questions, people wanted to know if they were among royalty.
They were right.
Found in the Book of Revelation (cf. 11:15, 19:6 and 19:16, KJV), used by Charles Jennens in a libretto, and set to music by Georg Frideric Handel, the Word reigns just as true at His birth, death, resurrection, Good Friday of 1742, and today.
Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.
O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!
For further reflection, go here.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness; for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, As they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as men make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, And the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for flames.
Jesus said to them, "The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light....Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me."John 12:35-36; 44b-50
Return again to the creation story. What was the first thing formed from nothing by the Word? Light. But Who was this Light? St. John gives the answer (and expounds on it further in his first letter):
What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (1:3b-5)Yet, once it thought it had succeeded with Adam and Eve, the darkness tried and tried again to overcome the Light during salvation history. But just as the echo of the Word still remained, so did a glimmer of Light. Noah saw it in the rainbow. Moses, who already viewed the burning bush, was privileged to see more than a glimmer on Mt. Siani. The Magi followed a star.
All of these pale when the Word spoke plainly:
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12b)
O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!
For further reflection, go here.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Thus says the Lord, the GOD of hosts: Up, go to that official, Shebna, master of the palace,
Who has hewn for himself a sepulcher on a height and carved his tomb in the rock: "What are you doing here, and what people have you here, that here you have hewn for yourself a tomb?"
The LORD shall hurl you down headlong, mortal man! He shall grip you firmly
And roll you up and toss you like a ball into an open land To perish there, you and the chariots you glory in, you disgrace to your master's house!
I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station.
On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.
I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.
I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family;
On him shall hang all the glory of his family: descendants and offspring, all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs.
On that day, says the LORD of hosts, the peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the LORD has spoken.Isaiah 22:15-2
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."Matthew 16:13-19
How powerful is the Word. From nothing, creation sprang forth when He was uttered. He speaks and the Law is given. Any oration from Him is full of wisdom and truth.
Perhaps, as is suggested in the verse from Isaiah above, the ability to bind and loose is the most powerful message He delivers. To bind a not so heavy yoke upon us, unlike the Pharisees he chastises in His ministry. To loosen us from the bondage of sin. To bind us together as brothers and sisters in Him. To loosen us from the fear which keeps us from loving each other. To bind our sufferings with His. To loosen the grip of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
But the most powerful thing this Word says is to the gates of Heaven, "Open. I closed you when Adam and Eve did not listen to Me. Because I now have taken on the nature of the crown of My creation and have redeemed them with My life, because I obeyed My Father, I make it possible for them to enter the Kingdom if they heed My voice. My church, My bride, has been entrusted with My words, My teachings, My sacramental grace to make heeding My voice an easy yoke. Those who heed My church heed My voice, and I will raise them up on the last day."
"The King of Glory comes, the nation rejoices.
Open the gates before Him, lift up your voices."
O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
For further reflection, go here.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land's afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra's den, and the child lay his hand on the adder's lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.
On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, The Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king. David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.
After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations.Matthew 1:1-17
The genealogy of Jesus found in the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew (1-17), the Gospel proclamation for the Mass of Christmas Eve, established Him as a descendant of the royal bloodline of David. It also connects Him to our father in faith, Abraham. Through the trials he endured, the father of many nations faithfully obeyed (heard) the Word.
How appropriate the Word would once again be proclaimed through his lineage. Some 42 generations later, a man who was in that line would have to do the same thing as Abraham. Like his ancestor and his betrothed, Joseph was visited by an angel. The heavenly being brings a similar message which Gabriel announced to Mary. Again, the words were only secondary. Again, the Word is more than an echo.
Like "father of faith," like "son." Two righteous men, the same act of faith. Both obeyed a timeless Word.
O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.
So was I.
The clue was in the URL. However, it took me until today to discover the author.
Not only a fedora doff, but also a reverent bow to Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, the 'blogmaster of "What Does The Prayer Really Say?" His posts focus on the accuracy of the Latin-to-English translations of prayers. He seems to be one of the leaders of the "reform of the Reform" just by his writings. (NOTE: Registration is required to view his 'blog. I was able to used archived settings found by searching.)
(UPDATE 12/22: The links to the icons are broken. I am unable to use them, so I have them from past and future posts. There are still available when you visit Fr. Z's 'blog.)
This story, if it is valid, provides and interesting twist in the tale of "jolly old man in the big red suit."
How fascinating if it is.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Now will I rise up, says the LORD, now will I be exalted, now be lifted up.
You conceive dry grass, bring forth stubble; my spirit shall consume you like fire.
The peoples shall be as in a limekiln, like brushwood cut down for burning in the fire.
Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; you who are near, acknowledge my might.
On Zion sinners are in dread, trembling grips the impious: "Who of us can live with the consuming fire? who of us can live with the everlasting flames?"
He who practices virtue and speaks honestly, who spurns what is gained by oppression, Brushing his hands free of contact with a bribe, stopping his ears lest he hear of bloodshed, closing his eyes lest he look on evil--
He shall dwell on the heights, his stronghold shall be the rocky fastness, his food and drink in steady supply.
Your eyes will see a king in his splendor, they will look upon a vast land.
Your mind will dwell on the terror: "Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed? Where is he who counted the towers?"
To the people of alien tongue you will look no more, the people of obscure speech, stammering in a language not understood.
Look to Zion, the city of our festivals; let your eyes see Jerusalem as a quiet abode, a tent not to be struck, Whose pegs will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes severed.
Indeed the LORD will be there with us, majestic; yes, the LORD our judge, the LORD our lawgiver, the LORD our king, he it is who will save us.
- Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven."Matthew 5:17-20
The first "O Antiphon" speaks of wisdom and how it created order from the chaos. It was the first time the Word was heard clearly and obediently. Even though Adam and Eve disobeyed (did not hear), God would not abandon the crowning glory of His creation to death. There were always glimmers of hope in early salvation history when the Word was more than an echo, for example, when Noah and Abraham obeyed the commands given them by God.
It was, however, time for the Word to become, in a sense, visible.
God was once again speaking His Word, this time through a mouthpiece which only knew how to stutter. The strange and awesome sight of the burning bush, where and when the Word revealed His name for the first time, was just the opening dialog. The ten plagues was a not so subtle way of getting everyone's attention. The parting of the Red Sea was just an exclamation point.
Now, fast forward to Mount Sinai.
The Word was about to become, in a sense, visible.
Recall the scene from the Book of Exodus. God came as a dense cloud. This holy mountain shook from the conversation between God and Moses. The Chosen People were commanded to worthily prepare themselves. Then, on the third day, when God finished speaking to Moses, He then spoke to the Israelites through Moses.
God gave them the Decalogue.
The Word became, in a sense, visible.
Despite it being "ten words" on stone tablets, it is still the undivided Word.
O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.
O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!
For further reflection, go here.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
"The LORD begot me, the first-born of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water;
Before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth;
While as yet the earth and the fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world.
"When he established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
When he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
When he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command;
Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day,
Playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the sons of men.
"So now, O children, listen to me; instruction and wisdom do not reject!
Happy the man who obeys me, and happy those who keep my ways,
Happy the man watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts;
For he who finds me finds life, and wins favor from the LORD;
But he who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death."
At that time Jesus said in reply, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."Matthew 11:25-30
Looking at the beginning of this antiphon, I am drawn to the opening of the Gospel of St. John, which is proclaimed at the Mass of Christmas Day:
- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
Then entered sin.
Then entered the need for salvation.
Throughout salvation history, the Word was uttered repeatedly, from Abraham to Moses to David to the prophets to John the Baptist. Some did heed the Word again, much like Elijah hearing the faint whispering sound (1 Kings 19:11-12). But these utterings were only echoes of Genesis. One knows how faint an echo becomes after the first repetition, no matter how loud the original sound.
So became the need for re-creation. The Word was then uttered "to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary." Note that when she accepted ("Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word"), she was not heeding the words of Gabriel. She heard the Word as clearly as the first fruits of creation.
Et Verbum caro factum est. Et habitavit in nobis.
There would be no more echoes.
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae!
O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!
For further reflection, go here.
Having said that, another milestone in the life of this 'blog was achieved. At 8:49 PM (local time) last night, visitor #30,000 appeared. With the information provided by SiteMeter, I have a guess as to who it might have been. Thank you for gracing my words with your presence.
This is a very humble work, always in progress. I hope to keep providing enlightening and entertaining thoughts. Please keep me in your prayers.
As has been my custom since I started this 'blog, I will once again present short meditations on each of the "O Antiphons". As part of Vespers, these verse focus on some of the attributes the Son of God will radiate in His time on Earth. Once again, I hope to add to what I have already written. Once again, I hope you enjoy what seems to be my most popular and well received posts.
Final preparations begin tonight.