Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sing for Joy, the Lord has Redeemed

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

By Beth DeCristofaro

Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem!  For the LORD comforts his people, he redeems Jerusalem.  The LORD has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:9-10)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.   All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. …[T]o those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.  (John 1:1-3, 12-13)

O God, we pray with the Holy Father Pope Francis.  “That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.”

“Are you ready for Christmas?”  We ask each other this at cashier lines, in workplaces, drinking coffee after Mass.  This year I’ve had some trouble answering because, in fact, I am rarely ready in the sense of gifts bought and wrapped (HAH!), menu planned (what did you say you wanted for vegetables, Mom?), house cleaned (HAH! Again) and so on.  But this year my Advent has been one of intense awareness, prayer-time and struggle.  Recurring themes for me have been courage, consent and come as I have read and prayed on the liturgical readings.  My job, working with the very ill and their families, has brought me again and again to the Truth of the holy Birth that even in death we have the promise of eternal life and joy in the midst of sorrow.  

In a spiritual sense I am ready for Christmas but am also not ready to let go of the season of preparation.   In the Christmas Mass during the Night, Isaiah promises the people:  For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian. (Isaiah 9:3).  How can we not raise our heads in joy?

Living daily with Advent mindfulness is preparation and readiness. Sr. Joan Chittister  suggests that “Christmas moves us to recommit ourselves to re-form our minuscule worlds to take in Christ the homeless child, the outcast, the refugee … Christmas will come to us in its fullness when we welcome into the human race all those we persistently see as lesser, and cry, ‘Peace to God’s people on earth.’”  In what ways can we remain mindful of our “Christmas readiness,” joyfully welcoming others into readiness?

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