Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Midnight Mass

Which Christmas scene do our hearts desire? Do our hearts desire the soft, the quiet, the hidden scene of Bethlehem? Do our hearts desire the loud, the brash, the bold proclamation of the field? Where would God have us meet Him?

We often want God to make the bold proclamation. We want God to rent a sky-writer or, better yet, a blimp with a scrolling message on the side: “God exists!” What would we do if, one night we looked up and saw a new constellation that says: “I am here!” Wouldn’t the world be a buzz: the American News, CNN, Foxnews, Drudge, everyone would be talking about this profound and powerful message. Yet many of us would believe, not because we wanted to but because we would have no choice. The shining constellation of God’s existence would bring us to believe as our hearts are beaten into submission. This is not God’s way.

The wisdom of God is shown that Jesus comes in the soft, the quiet, and the hidden scene of Bethlehem. God does not come to overpower us but to woo us. The infant Jesus is not bold but the angels are to point Him out. The infant Jesus is small so that we might be truly free to love Him.

Much like a fairy tale where the prince dresses as the pauper to see who receives him with love, the Prince of Peace comes as a defenseless babe to allow us to love Him. Does Jesus deserve fanfare, majesty, and solemnity? Yes and it is good for us to honor Him so! But He comes to us in the quiet of night, in the quiet of a voiceless child to allow us to love Him.

The Prophet Isaiah says: “For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for flames. For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.” The boots, the battle, the cloak and the blood are our own struggles with sin. Our battle against sin in ourselves, in others, and in the world will be ended. The baby can put an end to battle, to strife, to sin and to war because He lays claim by His very existence. A baby is greater than a speech or a story or a sign in the sky because a baby lives!

Those of us who meet this baby on His level, without pretense or pride, we who meet Jesus in humility and love receive His peace and joy. Whoever meets Jesus in the weakness of a baby receives His peace and joy to bring and to share with all others. So as we kneel at the manger this Christmas morning, as we kneel at the foot of the Crucifix this Mass, let us lay down our pride, our pretense and our battles. Let us ask the meek baby who is the Lord to relieve us of the burden of sin and strife so we may receive His peace and joy and so be His missionaries to the world.


Adoro said...

I've just finished reading all of these recent posts...all awesome, Father. Thank you.

I so prefer the quiet of Bethlehem...God was never in the storm. He always came in the stillness, and that has been the experience of the Saints, too. (Although some manifestations are pretty amazing....) :-)

God bless, Father, and Merry Christmas! said...

I'd like to offer this story on my application that brings the prayer on iPhone.
I believe that prayer is Christian and Catholic from spreading. You wonder why you can publish the news and if you can spread it to your friends on the blog.


fr. Paolo Padrini

Sacred texts: Vatican embraces iTunes prayer book
5 days ago
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is endorsing new technology that brings the book of daily prayers used by priests straight onto iPhones.
The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications is embracing the iBreviary, an iTunes application created by a technologically savvy Italian priest, the Rev. Paolo Padrini, and an Italian Web designer.
The application includes the Breviary prayer book — in Italian, English, Spanish, French and Latin and, in the near future, Portuguese and German. Another section includes the prayers of the daily Mass, and a third contains various other prayers.
After a free trial period in which the iBreviary was downloaded approximately 10,000 times in Italy, an official version was released earlier this month, Padrini said.
The application costs euro0.79 ($1.10), while upgrades will be free. Padrini's proceeds are going to charity.
Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications, praised the new application Monday, saying the Church "is learning to use the new technologies primarily as a tool or as a mean of evangelizing, as a way of being able to share its own message with the world."
Pope Benedict XVI, a classical music lover who was reportedly given an iPod in 2006, has sought to reach out to young people through new media. During last summer's World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, he sent out mobile phone text messages citing scripture to thousands of registered pilgrims — signed with the tagline "BXVI."