Posted by: fvbcdm | December 17, 2012

Feast of Saint Olympias (17 Dec 2012)

If you ever page through a missalette or a sacramentary or some similar liturgical book, you might notice that the holy season of Advent is divided rather clearly into two parts. We have those days from the first Sunday of Advent until December 16, and then the second part, from December 17 through December 24. This second part of Advent, which begins today, is the more proximate preparation for our Christian festival of the Birth of Our Divine Lord: Christmas. Today at Mass, the opening prayer echoes the blessing used at Mass every day when the celebrant pours a little water into the wine before offering the wine at the offertory. Every day, the priest says: By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity. That same idea is expressed in the opening prayer for December 17: the Church prays that “we may come to share the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our human nature.” At the time of his conception and birth, Our Lord took upon himself our human nature. That means he became man as well as God. Now, can we become God? No, we can’t. But we can rise above merely human nature and live a life of union with God and love of our neighbor which far transcends our native selfishness and self-seeking. We can deny ourselves and our earthly ambitions and live by faith and hope and love. That’s what is meant when we pray to “share in the divinity of Christ.”

Then, just before the gospel, the Alleluia verse is the first of the seven “O” antiphons used on the weekdays between December 17 and Christmas. They are seven very ancient, very brief prayers in each of which we address Our Lord by a different title and ask him to COME among us. The “O” antiphon for today calls him “Wisdom.” “O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love, come to teach us the path of knowledge.”

Time and again in the Old Testament, Scripture praises the wisdom of God “because he made the heavens and the earth.” The highest level of material creation is the human race. And the most perfect human being is Jesus of Nazareth. It is his birth we are very close to celebrating. Both we and he were made in the image and likeness of God. All of Christian spirituality is aimed at imitating the holiness of Jesus in our own lives. So we are asking God to make us wise in the things of heaven as Jesus is Wisdom itself in those things. We are authentic Christians to the degree that we try to imitate the holy wisdom of Our Lord. The most appropriate way for us to celebrate Christmas is by trying to live a wise and holy life as did the Son of God who was born in Bethlehem on that first Christmas day. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message in the past.



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