Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Christmas Eve Reflection

The King shall come when morning dawns
And light triumphant breaks,
When beauty gilds the eastern hills
And life to joy awakes.
The verse of this Advent hymn is rich in imagery.  We who are asleep in the darkness of sin will awake to a new and radiant Light.  We finds ourselves now in a kingdom whose Ruler still must win the final battle, but Who will be victorious in the end.  In the middle of this "night" something wonderful for us has happened.  Only a few knew about this event when it happened and set out in haste to confirm what the angels said to them.  Now that the morning sun has greeted the Morning Sun, the whole world can now see Him as He really is.

The Propers for the Christmas Mass at Dawn reinforce the ideas of light and kingship.  He Who is Lord and God over all has made Himself manifest in the most unlikely of ways by taking on the nature of His ultimate creation.  He becomes "like us in all things but sin."  The most radical solution to the most radical problem.

(Note:  The translations used, as for the past two years, are from the 1990 Gregorian Missal, published by the monks of Solesmens, France.)
Radiant light will shine upon us today, for the Lord is born unto us.  He shall be called Wonderful God, Prince of Peace, Father of the world to come.  His reign shall have no end. 
Cf. Isaiah 9: 2, 6; Luke 1:33
The words of the Annunciation and the First Reading at the Midnight Mass are set before the faithful in this Introit.  While Mary would have recalled Gabriel's message, the people of Israel would be familiar with the prophecy.  Now that this new morning has broken, now that the eternal and infinite has cloaked Himself with time and matter, we can have our first clear look at Love made visible and manifest.  We see our newborn King and instinctively reach out to Him.  In this act, symbolic of the first step of the Prodigal Son, we begin to return to the Father with the help of the Son by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  He Who seems helpless shows His power and might just by the act of reciprocating, by reaching for us and making us His own again.  St. Augustine is correct:  He Who made us without our consent will only save us with it.
Blessed is he Who comes in the name of the Lord.  The Lord God is our light. 
Psalm 117:26, 27
The adoration hymn of the angels is recalled in the Graduale.  Are not our souls also joining in and saying, "Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Hosts"?  The new Temple is created, one of living stone, lit by His own radiance, made for a "once for all" sacrifice of Himself, Victim and Priest, offering and oblation.  No wonder why the shepherds were the first to see Him; they saw the spotless Lamb of God and "knew" their care of Him would be special task.  The Good Shepherd was recognized by those like Him; those who took care of flocks of sheep saw He Who would take care of the flock of Israel.
The Lord reigns, he has enrobed Himself with majesty; the Lord has clothed Himself with strength, He has girded Himself with power. 
Psalm 92:10b
What irony we have in the Alleluia.  Helpless as an infant, needy, dependent, Mary's question of  "how can this be" in a broad sense becomes our own.  Humanity still hasn't learned the lesson--you can't put anything past God.  We still try to make God in our own image and likeness, to make Him equal to us.  We have forgotten the fact first and foremost the relationship between God and us is Creator/creature, despite the fact God has befriended us.  We owe Him everything for everything good came from Him.  Because of Original Sin, obedience is a struggle.  Only through humility, by adoring on bended knee, do we begin to receive the grace He offers so that we can hear His voice and follow Him.  As we have to stoop to pick up any infant, so must we stoop to pick up the Christ Child.
For it is God Who has established the world, it shall never be moved; Your throne is established from of old; You are from all eternity. 
Psalm 92:1c, 2
In the Offertory the perfect statement is made as we bring forth the gifts of bread and wine, symbols of creation, which will become the Real Presence.  He Who established the world receives "the world" back from whom and for whom it was created.  Here is our reminder God is God.  Here is the beginning of the proper relationship between God and us.  Here is the acknowledgement we "are dust and unto dust we shall return".  Here is where we can say with the Psalmist, "How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me? I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord." (Psalm 116:12-13) Here is the first lesson of humility.
Exult, O daughter of Zion, sing praises O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, your King is coming, the Holy One, the Savior of the world. 
Zechariah 9:9
Echoes of Palm Sunday reverberate in the Communion.  Once again, as before, the King comes riding on a donkey (albeit the first time in the womb of His Mother). Once again, as before, it was time to be delivered.  Unlike the first time, there was no earthly rejoicing, for He came in cover of night and darkness.  It was only in the light of day that the Light of the World could be seen, even while this Light cannot be overcome by darkness..  It all ties in simply;  no Birth, no Life, no Death, no Resurrection, no Salvation.  And in the receiving of the Precious Body and Blood does He also come, as completely as He did on Holy Thursday, as completely as He did on Good Friday, as completely as He did on Easter Sunday.

Emmauel.  God is with us.  "For a Child is born to us, a Son is given us; upon His shoulder dominion rests".  The King of Kings has come when morning dawns.  The Light has triumphantly broke.  Beauty is all around us, not just the hills of the east.  And Life to Joy has awaken forever.  "Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth the angels sing.  Come, adore on bended knee Christ, the Lord, the newborn King."

Hodie Christus natus est.

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