Fourth Sunday of Advent : Christmas Eve

December 24, 2017
Fourth Sunday of Advent : Christmas Eve
Readings of the day: RB 66Mass: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Resp. Psalm 89; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38 From the Cistercian Abbey of Quilvo, Curicó, Chile
Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One;let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior.(Entrance Antiphon, Mass)
We have busy, exciting 24 hours in which to immerse ourselves. First, we move towards the conclusion of this holy season with the celebration of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, then end Advent before First Vespers of Christmas. At First Vespers of the Nativity of the Lord we enter Christmas Time.

Ethiopian iconTo prepare for today’s liturgy, I went to my postcard collection and selected those with artwork of the Annunciation. One of my favorites, included here, is from the Cistercian Abbey of Quilvo, Curicó, Chile. The other depiction of the Annunciation I especially like is not on a postcard, but framed on my wall: included here, an Ethiopian icon written on skin. Although very different, these icons speak to me in similar ways. First, in the depths of their simplicity. Second, in the hands of the Angel Gabriel and of Mary. I’ve been told that eyes are the window to the soul; for me, hands are the window to the heart. Hands intrigue me: they speak to me in their lines, smoothness, coarseness, elasticity of the skin, in their delicacy no matter they big or small. Look at the hands in the photos. The artist of the Quilvo picture shows both Gabriel and Mary with oversized, plump hands—open, directed toward the Word, ready to give the Word, and receive the Word. In the Ethiopian piece, the writer shows hands with elongated fingers pointing to the Word, guided towards Mary; Mary too pointing while covering her heart. The sheer magnitude and impact of the Word: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.’ Mary was troubled, afraid, yet with open hands, she pondered in her heart. I like to think Gabriel took the hand of Mary and calmed her. Today may be a day to take the hand of one lonely, ill, anxious, grieving, or appearing distant. Getting ahead of myself, I wonder what would have happened had someone taken the hand of ‘perturbed’ Herod. Or, take the hand of a loved one and look at it, hold it—examine its beauty and let it speak to you and lead you to the beauty of her heart. Hands—Heart: may they lead us to the child to be born.
When the human spirit is ready, God enters without hesitation or waiting.You need not look either here or there.God is no farther away than the door of the heart.(Meister Eckhart)
With outstretched hands and enlarged hearts,may we welcome the WORD made FLESH dwelling among us.
MAY IT BE DONE TO ME ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD.
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December 24, 2017 Back to Daily Lectio
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