Christ

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Advent reflection

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God;

God is being described. With him is someone else, someone called “the Word”; he is the expression of the meaning and fullness of God, the First Person, Speaker of the Word. This Second Person is also God, “was God,” yet there is only one God. Further, the Second Person “came” into his own: into the world which he had created. Let us consider carefully what this means: the everlasting, infinite Creator not only reigns over or in the world but, at a specific “moment,” crossed an unimaginable borderline and personally entered into history—he, the inaccessibly remote one!  –Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’

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Still waters run deep

Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’

THE INCARNATION

The Christmas liturgy includes these beautiful verses from…the Book of Wisdom: “For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, thy almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne”. The passage, brimming with the mystery of the Incarnation, is wonderfully expressive of the infinite stillness that hovered over Christ’s birth. For the greatest things are accomplished in silence—not in the clamor and display of superficial eventfulness, but in the deep clarity of inner vision; in the almost imperceptible start of decision, in quiet overcoming and hidden sacrifice. Spiritual conception happens when the heart is quickened by love, and the free will stirs to action. The silent forces are the strong forces. Let us turn now to the stillest event of all, stillest because it came from the remoteness beyond the noise of any possible intrusion—from God.

Luke reports:

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, … and when the angel had come to her, he said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.’ When she had heard him she was troubled at his word, and kept pondering what manner of greeting this might be. “And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he shall be king over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall have no end.’

“But Mary said to the angel, ‘How shall this happen, since I do not know man?’

“And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; and therefore the Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God.’

“But Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.’ And the angel departed from her.

How quietly everything occurred….

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Intensity and propensity of prayer

All this is a dark mystery. The work is laborious, and the results, even where tangible, are so slow, so intermingled with checks and reverses that one is tempted to wonder what will be the eventual outcome. What a cruel vision for Him who is come “to cast fire upon the earth”!

Finally, multiply these sufferings by one another. Imagine this body in its sweat of blood, His soul a prey to weariness and to the presentiment of horrors to come, a heart stricken by His children’s refusal to love Him, His energy exhausted by the apparent futility of effort — and then say how far torment can go.  –Father A.G. Sertillanges ‘What Jesus Saw From the Cross’

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Scapegoat

It is from here that comes the burning wind which parches the land of Judea, as the breath of evil sterilizes the soul. The ancient Jews saw in this desert the region of sin. The neighborhood of the Dead Sea evoked in their minds the thought of God’s avenging visitations, and this is the reason why every year they drove into this desert the scapegoat, laden with the sins of Israel. The beast was solemnly cursed before the altar, driven into the valley of Kedron, where it was cast down into the deep abyss as a sacrifice for the people.

Jesus, as He looks in this direction from the Cross, cannot fail to reflect that He is this beast accursed, driven this very day out of the city, shut out from the world, driven forth to die, humbly and silently allowing Himself to be counted among the goats.  –Father A.G. Sertillanges ‘What Jesus Saw From the Cross’

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Ultimate acts

The symbol (Jesus washing the Apostle’s feet) of love is mingled with the symbol of purity, so that we may learn that where true love is, there also is the assembly of saints. Jesus does not need to be purified, but He humbles Himself and He loves. He gives an example of every virtue. By this act, He affirms that the enemy of love is pride, and that the enemy of all good is the refusal to love. Humility and charity are the foundation and the crown respectively of the spiritual edifice which He intends to erect, both in the individual and in the human race. And the Cross, too, which supports this edifice, is as humiliating as it is painful; but when the work is accomplished it will be glorious as the instrument of union and the source of bliss. Every thing is there. All is in the Cross, because all is in humility and love, and the washing of the feet is the herald of the Cross. –-Father A. G. Sertillanges ‘What Jesus Saw From the Cross’

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