Tag Archives: Christmas

The Twofold Coming of Christ

At this seventh day of Christmas, I am thinking of who it is we preach these days. A piece from Saint Cyril of Jerusalem is helpful to contextualize the question especially we are day before the Octave Day of Christmas: the giving of the Holy Name, the only one that truly saves us. The saint preached:

We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom.

In general, whatever relates to our Lord Jesus Christ has two aspects. There is a birth from God before the ages, and a birth from a virgin at the fullness of time. There is a hidden coming, like that of rain on fleece, and coming before all eyes, still in the future.

At the first coming He was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. At His second coming He will be clothed in light as in a garment. In the first coming He endured the cross, despising the shame; in the second coming He will be in glory, escorted by an army of angels.

We look then beyond the first first coming and await the second. At the first coming we said: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. At the second we shall it again; we shall go out with the angels to meet the Lord and cry out in adoration: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

Merry Christmas

Sweet Jesus, you chose to be born in humility of a humble handmaiden, who humbly wrapped you in the swaddling clothes of humility and laid you in a manger. Most merciful Lord, grant that the holiness of new life may be reborn in me through the ineffable mystery of your nativity. Thus may I be wrapped in the swaddling clothes of the religious habit and strive to live within the constraints of Christian discipline – placed as it were in the manger – to lead me to the summit of true humility. And as you deigned to share in our humanity and mortality, grant that I may share in your divinity and eternity. Amen.

A prayer of Ludolph of Saxony

St Stephen

 

As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep.
~ Acts of the Apostles 7: 59-60

God’s mercy reaches us

Let Your goodness Lord appear to us, that we,
made in your image, conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength
we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love
Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.

a Christmas Prayer attributed to Saint Bernard

Presentation of the Lord

A mosaic of Mary and Joseph presenting the child Jesus to Simeon decorates the chapel of the Jesuit infirmary in Rome June 8. The Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is establishing an office to promote the development and use of appropriate liturgical art, architecture and music. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (Nov. 14, 2012) See CONGREGATION-ART Nov. 14, 2012.

A mosaic of Mary and Joseph presenting the child Jesus to Simeon decorates the chapel of the Jesuit infirmary in Rome. (CNS photo/Paul Haring, 2012)

Today’s feast brings to the end the Christmas cycle: 40 days ago we celebrated the Incarnation on Christmas Day. This feast has another name: the Byzantine Church calls it the Encounter of Our Lord. Western Catholics will call it Candlemas.

Why celebrate the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple? What impact does it have for us?

Look to Luke’s Gospel in which we see the honoring of the requirement of the Moasic Law for a mother’s purification forty days after giving birth. She comes to the Temple for prayer and re-incorporation into the community of faith. At this time child birth made the woman unclean to for a period of time. The Church uses the appearance of Joseph and Mary for these rituals to underline the paradox that God, author of the Law, here submits to the Law.

It is important to note that St. Luke records this particular observance of the Law. “The Church uses the appearance of Joseph and Mary for these rituals to underline the paradox that God, author of the Law, here submits to the Law.” Also biblically tied into the Temple visit was the recognition of Israel’s first-born sons who, when Egypt, were killed prior to the Exodus event; hence by tradition parents were bound to present an offering to claim their child.

Luke also reveals to us the prophetic utterance of Simeon and Anna who recognize and encounter the child Jesus as the glory of Israel, the light of revelation for all people. This encounter realizes the revelation of Jesus as the foretold Messiah — a fulfillment of an expectation.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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