Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Just Another Day: Christmas


A poem followed by a brief reflection on Advent and the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 
'Nativity with the Torch', Le Nain brothers, France.

Over the horizon men yawn,
Ready to start just another
Day like all the rest that have gone.

Throughout the world in each and all
The continents the daily norm
Rolls and potters in usual drawl.

Naught at all seems unusual,
Yet there in the Middle East in straw
Cries a baby most beautiful.

No one’s aware that he’s there,
But there doth lay the eternal
God as Saviour who needs our care.


The first advent, the first coming of the Lord in the flesh as a helpless babe,  was marked by an entrance into the world relatively unannounced. We can hardly enter into a room without making our present felt, and yet here we have a God who comes in secret – concealed by poverty and hidden by ordinariness. The feast day of our Lord’s birth was acclaimed by the prophets for hundreds of years prior – and Israel was somewhat pregnant with anticipation. Yet this celebration took place in a stable cave, and there were few who were invited. Mary, Joseph, some cattle and other domestic beasts; along with several shepherds. The Father sent forth angelic ambassadors to rally together his chosen guests of honour – dirty, simple shepherds who believed the message and made haste to Bethlehem, in order to feast on the Manna sent from above.

Indeed the Shepherd of Israel - who hailed from the line of David who was also a shepherd - sought to gather to Himself those who shared His likeness. Even His Mother the Shepherdess, yearned for the company of such little ones – as has been the case in recent times through the Mother’s choice of visiting shepherd children at La Salette, and Fatima. Besides these few, the approaching wise men, and the people of Jerusalem who were aware of the elusive rumours of the birth of Christ, the world was totally oblivious to the single most important event to ever take place. Men awoke, and children played, women sewed, and cattle plowed – all as if nothing out of the ordinary was taking place. Indeed the Second Coming will be loud, mighty and majestic in awe and power – the whole earth will be shaken to its foundations, and the waters will rock with tsunamis – even the blind and the deaf will see and hear those things which shall transpire on that Last Day.

Yet in the meantime, in the mystical Second Comings of our Lord made manifest in the Eucharist and in the perennial visitation of the Divine Will; and likewise in the intermediate coming spoken of by St. Bernard – which shall be somewhat louder – the Lord will come disguised and concealed. Certainly in our Bethlehem, in our souls, He lays there in the manger of our heart, hidden behind the straw of obscurity, numbness, and invisibility. Most are unaware of this reality at all; some unknowingly seek to kill the life of Christ within like another Herod; some have achieved this wicked deed in mortal sin (perhaps we have or once did in the past through our sins); some are vaguely aware He’s there; some admire Him from a distance - lacking trust in God's Mercy and Goodness; whilst others – like those simple shepherds – adore Him and play with Him in an intimacy of nearness. Why? Since these shepherds came to Jesus through Mary and Joseph – whence it is written: “And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Lk 1:16). In the same manner, those who are poor shepherds in spirit, who realise their nothingness and who thereby rely on and practice true devotion to Mary and Joseph - are blessed with the grace of being able to hold the Infant Jesus in the arms of their souls, in, with and through Mary and Joseph. There is no such thing as distance which divides them from their Lord, for “the Lord fulfills the desires of the poor” (Ps 10:17).


Other Christmas Related Posts:

Eucharistic Christmas Preparation
St. Joseph and Christmas: The Man Behind the Scenes
The Inn and the Stable
Bethlehem's Stable