Sgs2:8-14; Ps33:2,3,11,12,20,21; Lk1:39-45
“O Oriens: O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”
After a long time in the dark it takes a while for our eyes to adjust to the light. We don’t see too clearly until this adjustment takes place. After a long time as slaves in Egypt or as exiles in Babylon, the people of God were rubbing their eyes and squinting with the arrival of freedom. The Radiant Dawn of eternal light and the rising of the sun of justice have caused us to stop dead in our tracks with overwhelming joy and festive gladness. This exaltation gives birth to new songs upon the harp and ten-stringed lyre. We can’t stop chanting his praises. We sing new songs and pluck strings skillfully with shouts of heart-felt joy. Such is the festive season of our Savior’s Nativity. Are not new songs sung and old songs chanted all with a heart fresh with gladness and a voice attuned by new gratitude? Yet, the excitement of Christmas’06 was it not wild with joy? Where went that festive gladness? Indeed, it is the plan of God’s own heart that we never cease to celebrate his delight to be Immanuel, God with us! We who are his own inheritance continue to wait for the LORD, our help and our shield, in him our hearts rejoice and in his holy name we trust more this Christmas than last Christmas. If our Advent waiting continues throughout the year so too will our Christmas gladness continue to fill our days with joy. Such is the promise of the Rising Dawn, the risen Christ, who fills our minds and hearts with a new light, the light that purifies and perfects our life in Christ. We are the beloved ones and the beautiful ones of the Faithful Spouse, Jesus Christ; he finds our voices sweet, and we are lovely. Indeed the Gospel of Saint Luke makes it clear that we are blessed, like the Virgin Mother, Mary, when we believe that the Lord’s promises to us will be fulfilled.
Twice the Lover says to the beloved, “arise and come!” Perhaps, the beloved is distracted and not listening well. Perhaps, the Lover speaks softly so as not to frighten the beloved. Or perhaps, the Lover knows us all too well. We are the beloved after whom the Lover comes springing across mountains and leaping over hills. Like a gazelle he routs about in the woods and like a young stag he runs after us to quench his thirst more than refreshing springs of water. Now, yes even now, He stands at the wall of our hearts and gazes upon us, peering through the lattices. The Lord Jesus comes so close, yet He does not want to frighten us away, so intense his love for us. We are so hesitant and so distracted even in our Advent waiting. Yet, this Lover Eternal pursues us with such passion. He speaks to our weak and wounded hearts. I want you. I want you as you are; I want you now. Come the winter of your sin and the cold of your heart is over. My light and my warmth have given new life to you in the very depths, in the secret corridors of your cavernous heart. Like spring I come to fulfill my Advent promises. It is safe now to come out of your hiding place in the rocks. I am, for you, a safer place than any cleft or cliff. Such is the romance of our souls, and the Lord, Our Lover, does not hesitate to call out, twice and even more, to summon us to life, abundant life. Now, and ever and forever!
Just after her espousal in her Annunciation, the beloved of the Holy Spirit makes haste over the hills to a town of Judah, to Zechariah’s house. The joy of the Word Made Flesh within her womb hastens her to visit with Elizabeth, old and barren Elizabeth. At the end of the Archangel’s good news, Mary was told of the impossible happening within the womb of the old and barren Elizabeth. This new life in an old body was but a glimpse of the wonder of the life within her own womb, yet Mary could not hesitate to share such unearthly delight and impossible surprise. Even the child within Elizabeth’s womb danced to welcome the Eternal Word in the Silent Womb of the Virgin Mary. When all seems very old and quite predictable, it is then that the ever new and unexpected God Comes. Our Eternal Lover comes not just to peer into our hearts he comes to live within our hearts. This passionate lover comes to be so completely one with us that we become radically new. We are finally in the world, but not of the world. We are finally transformed by the word spoken to us, “arise and come.” Such is the old and ever refreshing word spoken to us in the resounding silence of Breaking Bread.