The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

These days of Christmas are given to us so that we might meditate upon the mystery of the Incarnation.  The Incarnation is a joyful mystery, but it is also a luminous mystery – full of light.  Light is a very important theme in the scriptures, and of all our senses, we rely to a great extent upon our eyes.  Light is what makes the things around us visible, and when we see things, we begin to know them and understand them.  The theme of light in the first reading is an invitation to consider a light that is not physical – not the sun, not the flame of candle or fire.  We are to consider a spiritual light.  What is spiritual light?  It is something that makes us know and understand in a deeper way – it causes us to know and understand what we cannot see and know by our eyes.  Light for the mind makes us understand reality more completely, we call that light, truth.  When you know the truth, your whole mind is full of light: everything else you have known becomes clearer, and things you may not have understood become apparent.

St. John teaches us in his letter that the ultimate truth about God is that He is Love.  That truth, and the clarity it provides for our life, can only enlighten our minds if it also inspires our heart and our actions.  The truth about God can only be known and  understood if love directs our attitude towards our neighbor.  Jesus says, “I am the Truth,” and so the light He gives to our minds, by our faithfully adhering to Him, is the radical nature and call of love, “No greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friends.”  Symeon sees this truth in the flesh of the infant God placed in his arms.  The Word has given all, has poured out His life into mortal flesh, to release us from the darkness of error, of wandering, of lovelessness.  “Now Master, you release your servant in peace, for my eyes have seen the truth, my eyes have seen the love, my eyes have seen your salvation.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is also given a deeper truth to live by.  Her heart, now pierced by the prophet’s word, the Word of God, the Word he cradles in his arms, is as though opened to the light of a more brilliant truth, a more profound love, only opened by the wound and suffering of her compassion.

HILARY OF ARLES:

There are three ways that we dwell in God—by faith, by hope and by love. God dwells in us by patience and humility.1

HILARY OF ARLES:

The person who hates is in darkness until he repents or until he discovers love.2

BEDE:

The person who loves his brother puts up with everything for the sake of unity. Such an attitude keeps us from hurting anyone unduly.3

CAESARIUS OF ARLES:

If a man hates his brother, he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going. In his ignorance he goes down to hell, and in his blindness he is thrown headlong into punishment, because he withdraws from the light of Christ.4

AMBROSE:

“And a sword will pierce through your own soul.” Neither Scripture nor history tells us that Mary departed this life by a violent death. For it is not the soul but the body that can be pierced by a material sword. This, therefore, proves that Mary was not unaware of the heavenly mystery: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” God’s Word exposes the thoughts and intents of the heart, because all things are open and naked to the eyes of Mary’s Son, to whom the secrets of our conscience are visible.5

 

Footnotes

  1. INTRODUCTORY COMMENTARY ON 1 JOHN. Bray, G., ed. (2000). James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (p. 179). InterVarsity Press.
  2. INTRODUCTORY COMMENTARY ON 1 JOHN. Bray, G., ed. (2000). James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (p. 181). InterVarsity Press.
  3. ON 1 JOHN.Bray, G., ed. (2000). James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (p. 181). InterVarsity Press.
  4. SERMONS 90.6. Bray, G., ed. (2000). James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (p. 181). InterVarsity Press.
  5. EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 2.61. Just, A. A., ed. (2005). Luke (p. 51). InterVarsity Press.
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