Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for December 24, 2006

I'm sorry it took me so long to post this for Christmas! I pray that everyone is enjoying the Octave, and celebrating the Birth of Our Lord with gusto. Thank you to those who have sent cards and gifts; I'll get to the Thank-Yous as soon as I send out my own Christmas cards!

From the December 24th Bulletin:

The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, or Christmas Day, celebrates that great and miraculous event of the birth of Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bethlehem. Our hearts and minds also reflect upon the related mystery of the Incarnation – God made man – at the Annunciation. These two deeply intimate and related mysteries of the virginal conception and the virgin birth demonstrate the incomprehensible reality of the blessed Trinity, which is at the same time entirely and completely transcendent and distant, and yet also immanent and present.

In honor of this great and awesome celebration of Christ’s Birth, our exploration of the Fathers of the Church will take a brief pause, and we will instead reflect upon these mysteries of Christ’s love, made present for us in the Sacred Liturgy and revealed to us in Sacred Scripture.

“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” says St. John’s Gospel (1:14). Such is the joy that fills our hearts (and the entire world) at God’s coming among us as a man. Yet His generosity and humility does not stop there, but He condescends to come among us as one of us, being born into a human family, thereby sanctifying every part of human life. The “hidden life” of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, gives us confidence that the Creator of the universe desired to endure the difficulties and hardships of family life, not only to provide an example but also to sanctify it from within.

Joyfully, then, we welcome Christ into the Holy Family and place the baby Jesus into his manger on Christmas morning. By doing so, however, we welcome Him into our own families as well, desiring to keep Him there not only during the Octave of Christmas (which we should celebrate with fervor!) but throughout the year. Even the image of the manger (or less-romantically the “feeding-trough”) and the name of Bethlehem (“House of Bread”) directs our minds to the Holy Eucharist, in which we feed upon Christ, the Bread of Life.

The Incarnation stands at the center of all human history: our Advent preparations recall the longing of the world for centuries upon centuries for our Savior to come, and our celebration of Christmas directs our lives to prepare the world for His return in Glory. God, having joined Himself definitively to our human nature, saves us by His miraculous birth and gives us each a personal share in the redemption He won for us by the Cross.

Wonders do not cease, however, as we contemplate the entrance of God into His creation, for by the union of the Creator to his creatures, He restores all creation in Himself. Therefore every Sacrament owes its possibility to the Incarnation. Because God has sanctified the ordinary and humble material world, through bread and wine, water and oil, and human touch, He gives to His Church the means of salvation through these very ordinary means. It was “by the Holy Spirit” that Mary conceived our Lord; likewise, it is “by the Holy Spirit” that each Sacrament allows material creation to mediate the grace of the Paschal Mystery (the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ).

As Dom Guéranger illustrates in his Christmas volume, “It is for this divine transformation that the world was in expectation for four thousand years, and for which the Church prepared herself by the four weeks of Advent. It has come at last, and Jesus is about to enter within us, if we will but receive him. He asks to be united to each one of us in particular, just as he is united by His Incarnation to the whole human race; and for this end, He wishes to become our Bread, our spiritual nourishment. His coming into the souls of men at this mystic season has no other aim that this union. He comes not to judge the world, but that world may be saved by him, and that all may have life, and may have it more abundantly” (Dom Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, vol. 2, p. 11).

It would be difficult to conclude without quoting from the great St. Bernard of Clairvaux, from his second homily for Christmas Eve, “Who by his great mercy unto that great birth, and who tomorrow leads us to that most famous event, and likewise tomorrow to visit us as our neighbor and condescend to be with us … who tomorrow sets foot upon earth, that we might receive the crown of our infant King with the joy of salvation and be victorious with Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit who lives and reigns, God, forever and ever. Amen.”

Have a blessed and Merry Christmas!