The birth of John can cause one to think of all that led up to the birth of Jesus. John was the forerunner of Christ, they are linked by family and through Mary’s visitation of Johns mother Elizabeth. Both Jesus conception and Johns was announced by an angel. In some ways I think that John possibly started paving the way for the Lord before he became known as the Baptist. His father Zechariah was a priest, and at birth they were linked through a common religion. It was Elizabeth that exclaimed Blessed thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. She then said And why is it, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Elizabeth recognized Mary’s special role in salvation. For John to carry out his mission of preparing the way for the Lord, the conditions for change had to be right. For John to prepare for the Lord, someone had to prepare the way for John, and that would have been his parents. John’s name Yohanan means graced by God. Jesus name Emmanuel means God is with us. God was also with John, guiding him in preparing the way for His Son.
Todays Antiphon, O Emmanuel
Emmanuel, God with us, our King and lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God.
Christmas Novena, day 8
HAIL, and blessed be the hour and moment At which the Son of God was born Of a most pure Virgin At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem In the piercing cold At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, To hear my prayers that I, like John, might put to use the grace that God has freely given me, in proper service to His Son in again preparing for the Lord. This feast of Christmas commemorates the past Nativity, and also anticipates the future coming of our Lord. Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen
Today yet another angel enters the Advent readings, and this time it is the angel Gabriel addressing Mary, and with her is the perfect obedience to God that is Mary. It is as if God resided with her even before a word was spoken. Her ears are always open to God, and her actions are always one of obedience. The first reading is David’s questioning the place for the Adoni to reside, he is thinking of building the temple, a dwelling place for the Lord. That temple will be built by his son Solomon, but it does raise the question of the places built for the Lord, and also the places where that Lord resides. Being a week before Christmas, it has me pondering a bit all of the varied dwelling places in the Christmas narrative. In the Old Testament the Jerusalem temple was the dwelling place for Adoni on earth, it was that intersection between heaven and earth. At the time of Christ’s birth that temple was greatly expanded by Herod and truly was a magnificent architectural achievement. It also had an administrative hierarchy, and a clearly defined set of rules for who could go where. Contrast that with Christ’s first architectural structure, the grotto that was used to protect livestock.It was a place to protect His sheep. While in the old temple the architecture was a thing of wonder, in that grotto the wonder is the birth of Christ. There is nothing to distract from that birth. While in the temple there is still that magnificence of the building, with the grotto nothing detracts from the infant Christ. From Christ’s birth He teaches Gods magnificence, and for man to be humble. Jesus second place of residence is on that same parcel of land, it is the manger he was placed in, and a manger is a place to feed a shepherds sheep. Of course neither of these places have any meaning, if it were not for that woman the God to be born resided in, and that is Mary. In that Nativity scene to come, when thinking about the residency of Christ, I don’t think so much of the temple replacement as the Church. I think of the tabernacle and the ciborium, and I think of that God residing within me and around me. Within Christians, and around Christians. With today’s antiphon, I also think of the sunlight rising on that grotto, and that light shining from that grotto. It is the reason the church faces east.
Todays Antiphon: Oriens or O Radiant Dawn
O Dawn, splendor of eternal light, and sun of justice, come, and shine on those seated in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
Christmas Novena day 6
HAIL, and blessed be the hour and moment At which the Son of God was born Of a most pure Virgin At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem In the piercing cold At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, To hear my prayers for that light of the world to be seen by all through word or action; to truly be illuminated by that gospel, and to use that light to guide others. Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen
Today’s O Antiphon is O Key of David and it marks Christ’s authority to David’s kingdom, and Jesus ability to unlock the treasures of that kingdom. Jesus fulfills the prophecies of that land and unlocks its scriptures. One of the things that Jesus did for those first disciples, the apostles, is to unlock those scriptures. The other was to hand those keys to Peter, and one place they are visible is on the flag of Vatican City:
That flag consists of two vertical bands, one of gold or yellow and one of white with the crossed keys of Saint Peter and the Papal Tiara centered in the white band. The crossed keys consist of a golden and a silver key, in which the silver key .The Vatican City coat of arms can be found in the white half. The coat of arms consists of: the papal tiara and the two keys which represent the keys to Heaven (Matthew 16:19) given by Jesus Christ to St. Peter. The popes are the successor of Peter, and the gold and silver keys have been significant elements in the symbolism of the Holy See since the 13th century. The gold represents spiritual power, while the silver key represents worldly power.
O Key of David, And scepter of the house of Israel,
Thou openest and no man dare shut,
Thou shuttest and no man dare open, come
Lead from prison, the fettered one,
The dweller in darkness and the shadow of death
Christmas Novena day Five
HAIL, and blessed be the hour and moment At which the Son of God was born Of a most pure Virgin At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem In the piercing cold At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, To hear my private prayer of this day. Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen
“O root of Jesse” is the foundation of the throne of David as Jesse is David’s Father. David’s kingdom was that kingdom all in the people wished to return to, it was the undivided and prosperous kingdom. From the memory of that kingdom springs the kingdom of God that Jesus preaches. The root of Jesse is the kingdom toppled, but also undefeated. From the root springs the nourishment needed for new growth, from that root springs the cross of salvation that is Jesus Christ. It is to that root of Jesse that we cry out to, that we might be freed from all that enslaves us and tears us down, and brought back to that Kingdom of God and that God that is the source of life for all mankind.
O Root of Jesse, who stands as the sign for the peoples,
at whom kings will shut their mouths,
whom the nations will entreat:
Come now to free us, and do not delay!
Today’s gospel brings yet another angel, and angels are appearing quite a bit at this time of year. Today it is that angel that appears to Zechariah;
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. Zechariah though does not believe the angel Gabriel, and Gabriel means “God is my strength.” Zechariah is filled with doubt, and old he has begun to lose his strength, and his doubt renders him speechless. He remains speechless until that prophesy of Gabriel is fulfilled and John is born. John becomes that sign that the tree is about to spring to life, just as John springs in the womb of Elizabeth in the company of Mary and Jesus.
For the fourth day of the Christmas Novena:
HAIL, and blessed be the hour and moment At which the Son of God was born Of a most pure Virgin At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem In the piercing cold At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, To hear my prayers for strength and nourishment from the Gospel of Jesus the Christ to battle the demons of life that keep me from growing. I pray that those suffering are able to be shaded by that tree of life, and that they are nourished by its plentiful fruit. As even a tree has needs for growth, nourishing soil and sunlight and water, I pray for those who are suffering for lack of food, and water, and shelter. It is a prayer for those suffering through poverty. Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen
Today the O Antiphons start and the first is O Sapientia or wisdom. Wisdom typically is seen as the product of age, but in this season we await wisdom delivered as a Child so that we might learn to nourish love, and grow in the wisdom of God. God coming as a child also allows us to begin a new relationship with our God free from all of the sins that man has accumulated over the years. Like a child, we are given the chance to begin anew.In today’s gospel Mathew gives the genealogy of Jesus, listing 42 generations:
“Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Christ, 14 fourteen generations.”
This is to establish Christ’s legitimacy as King. Jesus though later will reduce this list to Father and Son. He is the Word become man. The Wisdom of God.
O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!
For the second day of the Christmas Novena:
HAIL, and blessed be the hour and moment At which the Son of God was born Of a most pure Virgin At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem In the piercing cold At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, To hear my prayers for being able to discern the wisdom of your Son and that the world’s leaders also govern by that wisdom
Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen