Friday, December 25, 2009

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

The eighth day before the first of January, eighth day of the lunar month;
innumerable ages having passed since the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created Heaven and earth and formed man in His own image;
many more centuries after the flood, when the Most High placed His rainbow in the heavens as a sign of the covenant and of peace;
from the migration of Abraham, our father in faith, from Ur of the Chaldeans, twenty-one centuries;
from the exodus of the people of Israel out of Egypt, led by Moses, thirteen centuries;
from the anointing of David as King, about one thousand years;
in the sixty-fifth week according to Daniel’s prophecy;
in the year of the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
from the founding of the city of Rome, seven hundred and fifty-two years;
in the rule of Caesar Octavian Augustus, the forty-second year;
the whole world being at peace:
Jesus Christ, eternal God, the eternal Father’s Son, being pleased by His coming to consecrate the world, by the Holy Spirit conceived, nine months having passed since His conception, in Bethlehem of Judah was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.
Above is the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ (this is a literal English translation of the Latin), which may be sung at Midnight Mass.  It puts the Incarnation of Jesus in the context of both salvation history and secular history.  It acknowledges that God did indeed, really and truly, enter into His Creation in an great outpouring of Love.

The Ancient of Days, the Great I AM, the infinite and omnipotent God of the Universe united our human nature with His own divine nature, taking on the humility and weakness of a poor, powerless babe.

That infant was born in Bethlehem, a town of no great stature or importance, a town whose name in Hebrew means "house of bread."  He was laid in a lowly manger, the feeding trough of stable animals.  So we see that even in the circumstances of His birth, the Word Made Flesh wished to draw us near to Himself through the Eucharist.

As truly as He came as a little child so long ago, He humbly comes to us now as the Bread of Life, true food and true drink.  His divinity "incarnates" bread and wine, transubstantiating it into Himself, and then when we receive His Body and Blood, He begins to transform our very selves into Himself.

Magnificat's Christmas Eve meditation was A Christmas Prayer by Ian Oliver, and I was particularly touched by this verse of the poem:  "If God can lie down in a cattle-trough,/ is any object safe from transformation?"

A blessed and holy Christmas to you.  Receive the Eucharist, receive Christ born anew in your heart and be transformed.