Posted by: fvbcdm | December 19, 2014

Feast of Many Vietnamese Martyrs (19 Dec 2014)

At 12:35 p.m. central standard time on December 21, the winter solstice occurs. That means that the sun reaches its southernmost point relative to the spinning of our planet and its orbiting around the sun, and now the sun begins to move further to our north, so that we of the northern hemisphere have longer days.

I speak of this today because for millenia, those who worshiped natural objects like the sun rejoiced with celebrations when the days stopped growing shorter and began growing longer again. Many ancient temples and other structures like Stonehenge in England and the pyramids in Egypt have been found to have some connection with the sun and its solstices in June and December.  So when Christianity began to triumph over paganism, the Church often simply baptized pagan festivals and gave them a Christian character. Since we don’t know exactly when Jesus was born, the early Church fathers decided to make of the Roman festival of Saturnalia, the solstice festival, the birthday of the Lord.  Besides that, Saint John the Baptist says in the gospel, speaking of Jesus: “He must increase; I must decrease.”  This is another reason why the birth of Christ is celebrated as the days begin to grow longer, and that of John the Baptist in late June, when they begin to grow shorter.

Saint Ambrose, whose feast we celebrate each year on December 7th, comments upon Our Lady’s words at the beginning of her beautiful canticle: “My soul magnifies the Lord,” or in another translation, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”  He points out that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God, as our Creator says in the Genesis account of the creation of Adam and Eve. Each of us is expected to mirror the image of God and to allow our likeness to God to increase all our lives.  Since Our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect human image of God, it is our vocation to become more and more Christlike with each passing day. Now, as we are in the last days before the festival of Christmas, we prepare to celebrate the birth of a baby, just as once we were babies. He grew through all the stages of human development to full adulthood. And above all, he reflected perfectly the image of God, his father and ours. Let us try to imitate him in these ways, above all doing our best to become more and more Christlike in our lives as they progress day by day. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note: This message was composed some years ago.

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