Monday, December 22, 2008

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Jesus, a Fire Born Within
Evensong Reflection by
Sr. Paula Schmidt, OSsR

As a child, I remember sitting on our front porch steps on a sunny afternoon with a magnifying glass, focusing a ray of sunlight on a small piece of paper and watching the paper catch fire. Perhaps some of you have done the same. It is quite an amazing experience: that something so small, someone so small can harness a bit of the Sun’s power. Keep that image in mind. We will return to it.

All through Advent, until this week, the liturgy of the hours and the Eucharistic first Readings have focused on the promises of God through the centuries of waiting and expectation—promises recorded in the history and scriptures of the Jewish people, and living in the longing of the people for their fulfillment.

This past week, especially in the Gospels, we come to the immediate preparations for the fulfillment of those promises. We are no longer in the realm of symbolism and mystery—although mystery abounds—but now we are in history, in the concrete.

· We hear of the promise to the priest Zachariah of the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the One to Come.

· We hear of the anguish of the good man Joseph when his betrothed is found to be with child before they come together as man and wife.

· And yesterday and today the Gospel is Luke’s account of the Annunciation to Mary. God is fulfilling the promises through and in this young slip of a girl, Mary.

To return to the image I began with: we could say that the God’s promises coalesce in fullness as they pass through Mary and Fire is born: the fire that is God’s love incarnate, Jesus. These last days of Advent are as the last days of Mary’s pregnancy: we sense her expectation, her desire, the longing, and perhaps also the fear of any young mother.

Well, what can this special focus of the liturgy say to us? Is it only an event of the past that we remember and are grateful for and celebrate? Or is there the ongoing mystery of God’s coming to you and me, knocking at the door of our hearts and lives, wanting to be born in you and me?

God is ever active and seeks a home in the womb of each of our lives. The liturgy is alive with power if we open ourselves to it in trust and hope. “Behold, here I am. Let it be done to me as you have said, as You desire.” What is born at Christmas is not just Mary’s son, but God’s child in each of us. It is our birthday too.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Well constructed and inspiring Paula. Thanks!