Friday, December 26, 2014

At the Tomb

Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life— for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us.  1 John 1:1-2

Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.  John 20:8


The Angelus

V.  The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: 
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 
Hail Mary, full of grace…
V. And the Word was made Flesh:
R. And dwelt among us. 
Hail Mary, full of grace…
V.  Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.  Amen.

You would think that the great wisdom of the church would allow the glow of Christmas to shine for a few days.  However, as Colleen O'Sullivan noted in yesterday’s installment of Your Daily Tripod, we jumped from the miraculous birth of the Nativity to the sorrowful death of the first martyr.  Now, on the third day of Christmas, our true love church gives to us the metanoia of St. John the Evangelist at the empty tomb.

In this fast-forward from the mystery of the Incarnation to the mystery of the Resurrection, we have eclipsed the entire lifespan of Jesus of Nazareth in three days.  It is as if arriving at the just-filled crib to witness the birth of God-with-us will not bring you to believe, then perhaps standing inside the empty post-crucifixion tomb will touch your faith chords.

Neither crib side nor tomb side are places we would like to be seen.  The same could be said of being at the feet of an angel or at the foot of the cross.  Yet, all are places we need to be.  Christmas – indeed all of Catholic Christianity – is not about staying where we are.  It is about crossing to where we should be.  As Fr. Greenhalgh pointed out in his Christmas Day homily, the whole point of this God-baby was to come down and be the change that he wanted to effect in the world. 

Lives like those lived by Mary and Joseph, St. Stephen and St. John, and of course Jesus of Nazareth, are models of what we are supposed to do with our faith.  We are not only called to have faith, but also are called to act it out in the real world.  St. John was asked to cross the threshold of the tomb – and in so doing, he accepted by faith the mission laid out by Jesus.  What more will it take for us to intone those words of Mary?  “Be it done to me according to THY word, not my word.  Here I am, Lord.  I come to do your will.”  

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