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Archive for the ‘Incarnation’ Category

The Virgin, weighed

with the Word of God

comes down the road:

if only you’ll shelter her.

~St. John of the Cross

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'The Adoration of the Shepherds' Guido Reni

‘The Adoration of the Shepherds’  Guido Reni

God enters the world as a small infant. There is no room for him. . . no crib.

We are ungrateful children and haven’t known the value of Jesus’ visit. Light came to disperse the darkness; His message has gone unheeded. For on that cold winter night the angels did sing, but in vain. Our indifference has stifled their glad tidings. We were astonished, but only for a moment.

Jesus came into the darkness, the darkness of sin and death, but the darkness did not receive His light. Oh! if this Advent our darkness would desire and comprehend His light! Even if we don’t, the day will come when His justice will burst upon us in all its brilliance, and He will disperse all the spiritual darkness in man’s heart.

During Advent reflect on the state of our world before Christ’s coming. It was a world filled with darkness and sin. Then let us fill our hearts with gratitude towards Jesus who came down from heaven so that He might know our miserable state experiencing all of it, except for sin, and saving us from death.

Then let us reflect on His mysterious coming that He desires to accomplish in hearts. Let us open our hearts to receive Him more fully than ever before. He desires to enter there, to dwell there and transform us. Let us consent to receive this Divine guest. He knocks and asks to be let in. He delights to be born in our hearts. Do not refuse Him. Receive Him and let Him in.

This Advent let Him in and preserve Him within you as a great treasure. Let Him rest there where He can shape your thoughts and guide your actions to be like His. Welcome Him with love and care more than before.

The Virgin, weighed
with the Word of God
comes down the road:
if only you’ll shelter her.

~St. John of the Cross

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St. John of the Cross was a wonderful poet, probably the best poet Spain has ever known. One set of his poems titled, “The Romances”, expounds on themes of salvation history. Below is part of this poetry that expresses his thought on the Incarnation.

7. The Incarnation
Now that the time had come
when it would be good
to ransom the bride
serving under the hard yoke
of that law
which Moses had given her,
the Father, with tender love,
spoke in this way:
“Now you see, Son, that your bride
was made in your image,
and so far as she is like you
she will suit you well;
yet she is different, in her flesh,
which your simple being does not have.
In perfect love
this law holds:
that the lover become
like the one he loves;
for the greater their likeness
the greater their delight.
Surely your bride’s delight
would greatly increase
were she to see you like her,
in her own flesh”.
“My will is yours,”
the Son replied,
“and my glory is
that your will be mine.
This is fitting, Father,
what you, the Most High, say;
for in this way
your goodness will be more evident,
your great power will be seen
and your justice and wisdom.
I will go and tell the world,
spreading the word
of your beauty and sweetness
and of your sovereignty.
I will go seek my bride
and take upon myself
her weariness and labors
in which she suffers so;
and that she may have life,
I will die for her,
and lifting her out of that deep,
I will restore her to you”.
8. Continues
Then he called
the archangel Gabriel
and sent him to
the virgin Mary,
at whose consent
the mystery was wrought,
in whom the Trinity
clothed the Word with flesh
and though Three work this,
it is wrought in the One;
and the Word lived incarnate
in the womb of Mary.
And he who had only a Father
now had a Mother too,
but she was not like others
who conceive by man.
From her own flesh
he received his flesh,
so he is called
Son of God and of man.
9. The Birth
When the time had come
for him to be born,
he went forth like the
bridegroom
from his bridal chamber,
embracing his bride,
holding her in his arms,
whom the gracious Mother
laid in a manger
among some animals
that were there at that time.
Men sang songs
and angels melodies
celebrating the marriage
of Two such as these.
But God there in the manger
cried and moaned;
and these tears were jewels
the bride brought to the
wedding.
The Mother gazed in sheer wonder
on such an exchange:
in God, man’s weeping,
and in man, gladness,
to the one and the other
things usually so strange.

20 days old baby sleeping in a christmas nativity crib

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The Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve tells about how the birth of Jesus came about. The Gospel of Matthew 1:18-23 is read at this Mass. During the Christmas Eve Vigil we hear that, “She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” and that “God is with us.” No one could know God is charity, except through this most important event in all of history – the Incarnation.

On Christmas Day the Church celebrates three Masses. The first Mass is the Mass at Midnight. This is also known as the Angel’s Mass since the scripture passages are highlighted with the visit of angels. “The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ the Lord’. . . And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel praising God. . .” The Gospel reading is taken from Luke 2:1-14 which describes how the birth of Jesus took place.

Traditionally it is believed that Christ was born at midnight. Midnight is when it is darkest and this can be seen to represent spiritual darkness that is in the world. Only Christ, the Light of the world, can dispel this darkness. The birth of Jesus, the Word made flesh, has shown us the love of God. With allusions to Christ’s birth in our souls by grace – through the Word, God’s love is manifested and now tangible in this little baby who holds out his arms to us.

The Shepherd’s Mass or Mass at Dawn is celebrated early Christmas morning. Continuing with the theme of light, this Mass takes place at dawn when the natural light is increasing. The shepherds go to the crib to see the Christ child – a light in the darkness. In our consideration of these three Masses it would be incomplete without a visit to the creche, to see and worship the Infant Jesus.

creche

The third Mass of the day is known as the Mass of the Divine Word. The Word is a light that shines in the darkness. The Word is life. The Word became flesh. The Word is God. The Word enlightens and dwells among us. (Jn 1:1-14) And the Word ushers in a new law.

This is how St. John of the Cross speaks of the new law of grace now that it has entered into time, explaining how we do not need to question God and have him reply as it was necessary in the Old Testament because:

 “in this era of grace, now that the faith is established through Christ and the Gospel law made manifest, there is no reason for inquiring of him in this way, or expecting him to answer as before. In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word – and he has no more to say.” (The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book II, 22. 3)

God has spoken through his Son. The Son speaks the Divine Word. We are to listen to that Word and carry the love that God has revealed into the dark places of our world.

If possible make plans to attend all three of these Christmas Masses. Reflect on these themes: angels, shepherds and the Divine Word. Worship the Infant Jesus, let his Word enter your heart and bring the law of light and love to our dark world.

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The Incarnation is the greatest work of God accomplished in time. This great work was accomplished in silence and obscurity. Its ultimate purpose is for the glory of God.

The Incarnation leads us again to the Trinity. In the beginning the Trinity, when creating man said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen 1:26) Let us make man in our image; however, sin entered and destroyed this image.  Christ comes in to restore it. Because of the Incarnation the Trinity comes to our souls at baptism so that we may come to share in the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)

St. Teresa in her Spiritual Testimonies #51, bears witness to this presence within her soul.  “Once while with this presence of the three Persons that I carry about in my soul…”  Our saint bears witness that we are never alone since God dwells with us.

The purpose of the Incarnation was beautifully described by Pope Benedict XVI in a homily given at Loreto,Italy (October 4, 2012):

“The purpose of the Incarnation and Redemption was to unite in a real fashion heaven and earth. That unity could only take place if there were in the universe beings who were free, who could know and act. We sometimes think of heaven and earth as antagonistic to each other. We know they can be….The Incarnation tells us that we are never alone, that God has come to humanity and that he accompanies us.”

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