Advent Meditations: Tuesday 24 December

Dec 24, 2019 by

Dec 24
am: 45, 46
pm: 89:1-29
Isa 59:15b-21 am: Gal 3:23-4:7
pm: Phil 2:5-11
Matt 1:18-25

Notes on the Liturgical Feast for Today: The Vigil for the Feast of the Nativity – (Also known as Christmas Eve)

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Christmas Eve is referred to is Paramony (“preparation”). It is the concluding day of the Nativity Fast and is celebrated as a day of strict fasting by those devout Orthodox Christians who are physically able to do so. In some traditions, nothing is eaten until the first star appears in the evening sky, in commemoration of the Star of Bethlehem. We in the West have no such particular custom but there re numerous ethnic customs of Christmas Eve. Some that may not be as familiar to us are:

  1. In Switzerland  a big tradition in Switzerland is the ringing of bells throughout the town and countryside, especially on Christmas Eve. A popular food treat at home would be the ‘ringli’ or huge doughnut that is serviced with hot chocolate.
  2. In  Finland A christmas tree is set up on Christmas Eve. They traditionally use candies, apples, cotton and tinsel to decorate the tree. A large feast is prepared and eaten in each home about 6 p.m. Just before or after dinner is when the gifts are handed out.  Across Finland the saying ‘Merry Yule’ is used to express good wishes.
  3. In Italy  eight days before Christmas  culminates tonight when  children will dress as shepherds and sing songs as they visit homes in the neighborhood. At each house they are given money. The big day for gifts for children is Epiphany, January 6th.
  4. In Spain  Christmas Eve is called ‘Nochebuena’ or Good Night. With a special Nativity display in every home there is much feasting on a traditional treat of ‘turro’ which is almond candy. The feast of Epiphany is the big day for gifts.
  5. In Denmark a special rice pudding called Grod is prepared for the family members.  Within the pudding is a special almond. Whoever gets the almond also received a prize. The evening meal will include stuffed goose, red cabbage, fried pastries and browned potatoes. It is Christmas Eve when the tree is first seen by the whole family and lit.

All of these customs in one way or another are the result of Advent preparations that are to get our attention to seek Christ’s presence means. The words of Scriptures these last few days should resonate profoundly within us as the themes offered are about mercy, hope, promise and life  combined with the power of forgiveness, and, of a call to justice and peace. God comes this Christmas Eve, to reveal that He is indeed on our side, that He conquers oppression, and that what He calls us to a new way namely, to follow the teachings of a child, born of Mary who grew up to proclaim the Gospel with his lips and his life.

Biblical Meditation :  The Office Reading for tonight is the same as our Eucharistic reading for Sunday and worth considering again. Clearly Joseph being a Godly and righteous man in Jewish custom was troubled at this point of his life given the dream he is given. Fears and worries abounded. This advent we have many fears and worries as Joseph did. We can relate to that because for many in our world this has been a difficult advent and difficult year.  Perhaps you or a loved one who are ill and we are wondering will they be healthy again. In these tough times economically will there be a turnaround? For others this will be the first Christmas without a loved one. Many fears and worries are around but with all of them, God is saying to us, “Do not be afraid.” God is inviting us to surrender and put our trust in him as Joseph did. He is calling us to be open to his grace amidst what seems a lack of grace trusting in God this advent that we will know the Peace that comes from the Prince of Peace.

PRAYER: God of love and mercy, help me to follow the example of Joseph,
who was open amidst the fear to doing your will. At the message of an angel he welcomed a vocation he was not ready for but became a model for men, spouses and fathers everywhere nonetheless. May that gift come to us this Holy Night. Amen

Spiritual Discipline /Activity If  on this day it was customary to go back  and read the first O Antiphon, using the first letter of each Name for Christ in the original language, beginning with Emmanuel, and going back to Wisdom (Sapientia), it spells out two words  (ERO CRAS), or “I come tomorrow “truly, tomorrow.” A blessed celebration of our Lord’s Nativity to you and yours

Ancient Words/Present Grace: “If what you love is above, you will reach the topmost height: there may the Spirit of peace lead and bring us, whose wishes and feeling are at one, and who are of one mind in faith and hope and in charity” – St. Jerome


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