Monday, December 24, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 24 (Evening Mass)

Isaiah 9:1-6, Titus 2:11-14, and Luke 2:1-14

Reflection by Sister Jennifer Miller
VNA Chaplain, Hospice Program, Evansville, Indiana

In a faraway land in a hovel of a house, two brothers were flush with excitement because they had decided to visit the cathedral on the hill for Midnight Mass. Besides giving thanks to God, they entertained the hope that the bells might ring…

Far up into the base of the highest spire were what was rumored to be the most beautiful-sounding chimes in the world. Alas, they were seldom heard. The legend of the bells asserted that the chimes would ring only when someone offered a worthy gift at the altar. Crowns and intricate jewels and crafts had elicited no sound.

The boys walked fast to keep warm in their threadbare clothing. As it snowed, they sang carols to pass the time. Only a mile or so from their destination, they stumbled over an object in the snow. A woman lay dying. The older brother took out the dime they had saved as their gift and urged his brother on while he stayed with the woman.

The liturgy had begun as the little one edged his body into the massive doors and slipped unobtrusively to the lowest step of the altar to place their dime. Momentarily the bells began to chime.

As in that long-ago age, the night is sometimes bleak. Poverty is humbling. Violence is close. Bad news is disseminated like lightning. Fear and worry are near neighbors. Loneliness is rampant.

Isaiah’s words break into that gloom. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…the yoke that burdened them… has been smashed… for a child is born to us, a son given us… He shall be called Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Price of Peace.”

Just as the older brother offered a dying woman the gift of his presence, so our God offers a faltering people the gift of his Son. We celebrate Christmas tonight because our God chooses to spend time with us. Jesus chooses to be our brother and friend — to bring love to us who are afraid to trust, peace to counteract our violence, reconciliation in the midst of our conflicts, light in our darkness, food to feed our hungers, adoption to still our loneliness, the promise of eternal life to offer us endless hope.

“Glory to God in the highest!”

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