In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke, 1:78-79
The dawn breaks over the horizon, a vast and sparse landscape. Light begins to move in, slowly, steadily, filling the cool crisp morning air. Luminous rays of gold shoot forth preceding the rising sun and the end of darkness. Color explodes across the sky as the sun rises higher and higher and light overtakes all the gloomy shadows in it’s path. The quiet majesty of daybreak brings peace and instills hope; it brings the promise of life to things great and small, all things that are touched by it’s radiance. The long night is over.
Today is Christmas Eve. The dawning of Christianity is being remembered as we make the final preparations in our hearts to celebrate our saviors birth. His presence in the world preceded his birth much like the light of the sun that comes before it’s rise over the horizon. He was safely cared for in his mother’s holy womb, known only to a select few people. Emmanuel, “God is with us;” he is the promise to God’s people made long ago, the messiah who saves the world from darkness. Our readings today remind us of the promises God made through out history, of his mercy, faithfulness and justice. We hear from the prophet Nathan in the second book of Samuel that the Lord will build the house of David into a dynasty that will reign for ever. King David responds in the best way possible because he responds with humility and thanksgiving. He knows that God is the Lord of hosts and he, David is but a servant. This is not the way many kings before and after David have acted! Finally, a king worthy to carry a lineage that would give rise to the long awaited king of peace. The psalm reiterates,
I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: I will make your dynasty stand forever and establish your throne through all ages. 89:4, 5
In our gospel reading from Luke, we hear the Canticle of Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad, who’s prophecy was the work of the holy spirit; he reminds all those around him that God is faithful and God will fulfill the promises he made to the Israelites long before. He proclaims his son John as the one who will prepare the people for the coming of the king; the light, the path to peace, Christ, the anointed one. These readings are perfectly selected for today, as they stretch our minds back through salvation history and through the covenants God made with humanity that reconciled us to our creator. It feels like a long, long road to mere mortals, but to God, perhaps the time leading up to the birth of Jesus is more like a dark, cold, six month winter. Now we are a world bathed in light because Christ has come, and he is with us. If we think of the new convent as only twenty four hours long, where would we be now, two thousand years after the first coming? Is it only nine o’clock in the morning? Is it noon? Is the afternoon creeping on and the day slowly coming to a close? All we know for sure is that The Light is with us; Christ is here and we, the baptized all take part in his mystical body. Let us guard very, very carefully the flame of Christ within us; a light meant to be seen and shared. Let our words and actions always profess this light.
As the sun rises tomorrow, on the day we celebrate the nativity of the Word made flesh, I pray that we keep our hearts, our minds, and our bodies open for Christ. I pray that we share the immense love he has for us with others; I pray for peace in the world and in our families.
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.