Christmas Eve 2020

Arctic winds chill the northern hemisphere, this time, each year. The earth tilts, in a kind of bow of respect, and sun shares more of its warmth, with the south. In the north, we experience longer nights and shorter days. The only natural light comes from sister moon, and distant stars. None-the-less, with ingenuity, comes ways to harness and carry light, restoring our footsteps. We can go nowhere without visibility. We cannot venture out to sea; we cannot navigate in flight, and we cannot move across the land. Our circle of operation becomes small, and limited to nearby. In the dark of the night, we are destined to bump into things and each other, stumbling, falling, and putting much at risk. Fear of the dark friends, is really a fear of being disoriented. Without God’s light that comes in the flicker of an infant, we were people, squirming in darkness and going nowhere. The prophet Isaiah tells us, as much, when he says, “The people, who walked in darkness, have seen a great light. Notice the past tense, walked.


Candles and artificial light are marvelous discoveries, but every candle and bulb burns out, and needs replacing. If we expect to find our way to the Father, we look towards the light of Christ. A people who walked in darkness of mind and spirit are invited these Christmas Eve, and repeatedly throughout the year, to recalibrate our journey, towards the only light, that never dims or fades. We can begin by replacing the artificial; with the authentic that God, shines.


The star that guided shepherds and wise ones brings them, and us, to the place where God enters the human experience. To the spot where the Almighty Sovereign chooses to become visible! Two thousand years ago, it happened in the city of David, but today it is Silver Springs, Arbor Lake, and wherever faithful hearts abide.


God comes, but really does not attempt to overthrow Quirinius’ government. This infant does not set about destroying creation, or marching into a palace. He enters the human condition, through the womb of his Blessed Mother Mary. Mary and her righteous husband, following all the public orders of their day, have returned to the family’s ancestral town for census taking. There is no online form to register, and the expectant mom and her husband must travel from the northern part of their country across difficult and foreign terrain, to be counted.


They discover when they arrive, that accommodations are scarce Hotels are full, and no Air-bnbs. The budding family will begin, away from crowds. The only company they have over on the first Christmas morn are a couple of shepherds and a few domestic animals. Only later can the oracles, from far away, venture to the place, where the star has led them. Can we imagine the depth of God’s love that He would join us in this way, and continue to be with us in Holy Sacrament?

In 1919, Pope Benedict XV, reached out to the church through his encyclical entitled, In Hac Tanta. The teaching sought to address a pandemic consuming the world at that time. The Holy Father said,

We are amid many trials and difficulties, “and besides the other sufferings, there is my constant daily concern for all the churches” to use the words of the Apostle. We have closely followed those unexpected events, those manifestations of disorder and anarchy that have recently occurred among you and neighboring countries. They continue to hold us in suspense. In these dark times, the memory of St Boniface is a ray of light and a messenger of hope and joy[1]


With Christmas approaching, the Pope’s following encyclical, Annus Iam Plenus, (On Children) praised the newly created “Save the Children Fund” which appealed for Christian charity. The First World War and Spanish flu, delivered an especially devastating blow to children and the elderly. In the Pope’s global appeal, he called on all Christians to consider the Infant Jesus, as the church entered more deeply into the Incarnation narratives.

We have said that this work of charity and kindness would be most pleasing to the Infant Jesus. Moreover, indeed, why does the name Bethlehem mean the same as “House of Bread” unless it be that Christ was to be born into the light of day, Christ? Oh, how Our heart would expand if We were confident that throughout the Christmas festivities there would be no home destitute of consolation and joy, that there would be no child whose sorrow should break the dear heart of its mother and that there would be no mother who should look upon her little ones with weeping eyes.[2]


Brother and sisters let us complete these final days of 2020, with our gaze also set upon the Infant Christ. He, it is, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us, from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” “The Christ who lights our way to the Father and shows the path safely to our true home.


Amen



[1] Pope Benedict XV, (1919) In Hac Tanta, Encyclical of Pope Benedict XV on St Boniface, par 1 & 2. [2] From Pope Benedict XV, 1920, Annus Iam Plenus, par 3.




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