< the following was written just a few minutes ago to help me prepare for Christmas... it is shorter than it looks >
Christmas is tomorrow. The long-awaited Messiah comes… for Catholic Christians it is an entering into the events of 2,000 years ago. “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)
I’ve tried to prepare but it is quite clear to me— I have not done my best to do so. Distractions from within and without have been picking away at me. But I won’t fret over that, not now… now I begin again though it be the 11th hour. My failures show me my need for a Savior… my longing for the Savior becomes more real. I rejoice in my poverty… my lacking will be filled. He became poor to make us rich, weak to make a strong, human to make us partakers in his divinity!
I’m like the parched earth. We celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe recently… and before that we celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Even though I have not been conscious of it at every momentthe mother of my Savior has been here with me… she gives me hope.
In 1531, Juan Diego, a poor Mesoamerican Indian, heard beautiful sounds of birds and sensed a heavenly atmosphere unlike anything he had ever known. It was December and in a relatively arid area. There he saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. On one occasion there were beautiful roses growing there amidst cactus. The beautiful lady told him to pick them up and she arranged them in his cloak. It would be a sign to the bishop that our Lady had appeared to him.
It struck me that the roses are symbolic of virtue… all the virtues in my soul are due to the grace of God planting and watering them. Our Lady arranges them in my soul and makes me more presentable before God… that is what I ask her of her this very moment.
When she appeared to St. Juan Diego, she appeared as one of his people and subsequently left her image on his cloak as the Bishop witnessed the roses falling off of it. The image of our Lady of Guadalupe gives me great hope and great joy. She is literally pregnant with life in it just as she appeared to St. Juan Diego. For his people, she announced the coming of Jesus Christ as the child in her womb.
The events remind me of Isaiah 35:
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus
it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the LORD,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a hart,
and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
This is Christmas. “He will come and save you”. And he comes through the Blessed Virgin Mary. It makes sense to me to invite her into my heart that she herself might be my preparation. In my heart is where Bethlehem will be in a few minutes, there Jesus will enter and and his mother will receive him!
Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
1. Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming,
as those of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright,
amid the cold of winter,
when half spent was the night.
2. Isaiah ’twas foretold it,
the Rose I have in mind;
with Mary we behold it,
the Virgin Mother kind.
To show God’s love aright,
she bore to us a Savior,
when half spent was the night.