2 SM 7: 1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16
PS 89: 2-3, 4-5, 27 AND 29
LK 1: 67-79
Here we are at Christmas Eve day. The readings remind us of the promise to David of a heir. They revisit the proclamation of Zachariah.
But, our hearts might be moving in three directions today.
The cultural pull to celebrate Christmas is upon us - no matter what our family or cultural tradition. We might be excited or we might be worried. We might be prepared and ready and will be anticipating a wonderful time with family and friends. We might not yet be fully prepared and the day is hectic. Or, I might be celebrating Christmas alone.
Our religious memory reminds us of why we celebrate Christmas. We could be imagining the holy couple - Joseph and Mary - having made their way to Bethlehem, late and with nowhere to stay. Today, the scene can become very vivid for us, whether we plan to celebrate Midnight Mass tonight or to celebrate tomorrow morning. The crib scene has a story. Our Savior - God with us - did not come into a wonderful palace, like the one David built. Jesus was born into a very lowly place. This is the wonderful sign of God's self-emptying. This is how God chose to come and be among us - as a new born baby, in a manger, a feeding trough. Our Savior comes in this way, and it can become most meaningful today, if we let ourselves chew this good news, in the midst of whatever we are doing. It can mean so much if we let it. It can be a part of what we celebrate tonight and tomorrow. Yes, there might be people and parties, and there might be gifts shared. But, we can be filled with something our world will likely not be celebrating - that our God is a God who desires to meet us in the lowliest places in our lives. God with us, Jesus, comes to "save his people from their sins."
The third movement possible for us today is to remember, to collect, the graces of this Advent journey. For some of us that might have been a great four weeks of feeling that our longing for a closer relationship with our God has indeed come. I might feel forgiven and loved at a deepr level. I might be giving thanks that some darkness within me has experienced light. We might sense that some desert has bloomed with new life, in this new relationship. We might be feeling a greater freedom and a greater fire within our heart to love as we have been loved. We might even feel more prepared to go out to the places where others are feeling darkness and lowliness, and experience the call to bring light and joy there. Or, we might find ourselves not have been able to get around to Advent, right up to this moment. There still is time today. We can prepare for tonight and tomorrow. We can ask "Come, Lord, Jesus," in this moment. We can experience a longing in our hearts to know Jesus' love and mercy, and to feel a small "Rejoice," or even a really big one, flow from deep inside.
Let us approach the manger of our salvation tonight and tomorrow with great openness to the graces each of us can yet hope for and receive - for our own inner peace, and that we might bring peace to others in our lives, because of what we ourselves have embraced.