Advent 2009

December 24 – Thursday, Christmas Eve

Thought for today

Just one more sleep to go!  

Christmas is a Children’s festival.  Most of what families do, schools do, parishes do, and the commercial world does at this time of year is for the children. That is as it should be. Enchantment is an instinctive gift of humanity to its little ones.  Yet for millions of children enchantment still remains a dream as they struggle for food, shelter and education. “Let the little ones come to me,” said Jesus, “and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

Christmas too is an adult festival. It is a season for the generosity, thoughtfulness and reconciliation that we wish would stay with us all year through. The Feast of the Epiphany is actually the adult Christmas. It is the older and more glorious of the two feasts. It is the realisation of what Christ’s coming ultimately means for the world. This season Epiphany is on January 3, 2010.

George Frederick Handel understood the point well.  He wrote the great oratorio we know as “The Messiah” in honour of the risen Christ who is made known to us in an ongoing Epiphany, a journey of justice and love. Only more recently has “The Messiah” become associated with Christmas.  Christmas is an adult feast that invites humanity to reach out to the poor and forgotten and change as much as possible the things that keep people poor and which leave them forgotten. “Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior."

Scripture  

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light: upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils.
- Isaiah 9:1-2

Prayer

Father, you make this holy night radiant with the splendour of Jesus Christ our light. We welcome him as Lord, true light of the world. Bring us to eternal joy in the kingdom of heaven, where he lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Poetry extract 

Let them sit down around the pole of the Milky Way,
Let them sit down around the dweller in the earth-hollow.
Around the pole of the Milky Way let them sit down.
Around the dweller in the earth-hollow let them sit down.
In their camp-hollow let them present gifts to each other, -
Let them sort out their bullroarers!
- From “Song from the Intia-Cat Sacred Site” of the Aranda People of Central Australia, translated by T.G.H.Strehlow

A Christmas Carol

A favorite Christmas carol is the French “Cantique de Noël” (O Holy Night), 1847.  Here it is sung as the communion reflection at Midnight Mass by the parish choir of the Epiphany Catholic Church, 22nd Street and 2nd Avenue, New York. NY. United States. Soloists: Ms. Elizabeth Knauer and Ms. Dina Ipavic. Pianist: Mr. David Strickland. Videographer: Mr. Corey Kaup. Producer: Msgr Walter Niebrzydowski.
 


 

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!