The Christmas the Lord has Planned

Every year, at Holy Mass on December 19th, we read from Luke 1. And we confront the question: Why did Zechariah get punished for asking the Archangel Gabriel a question about John the Baptist’s birth, but Mary did not get punished for asking about how Jesus could be born?

And the answer is?…

–Zechariah—a wise, old priest—should have known better than to doubt.

–St. John the Baptist got conceived according to the traditional, birds-and-the-bees method, so Zechariah’s question was petulant. Whereas Mary asked a perfectly honest question.

–Zechariah was a chatterbox who talked too much anyway.

Remember how, two years ago, a lot of people worried about the Mayan apocalypse? And fifteen years ago, a lot of people worried that Y2K would crash everyone’s computer? 1,015 years ago, most of Western civilization sat waiting for the world to end at the turn of the first millennium.

New Agers Mayan templeI don’t mean to make fun of any of these people. In a way, they had the right idea. Zechariah failed to give God credit for being able to do something totally unexpected.

Do I know what Christmas is supposed to be like for me spiritually? Aren’t I supposed to have such-and-such feelings, such-and-such ‘faith experiences’ at Christmas? That’s the way it always is. It’s traditional. Christmas is a time for my traditional emotions.

For me personally, Christmas is traditionally a time to be tired and out-of-sorts. Because I have a cold. Because Our Lady decided to appear to St. Juan Diego in December instead of July. Thereby turning Advent from difficult to practically impossible for the Martinsville/Rocky Mount/Roanoke-Catholic priest to manage.

Traditional spiritual experiences.

But what if these are not what the Lord has planned for us for Christmas AD 2014? What if this Christmas will involve spiritual graces for me unlike any I have ever received before?

Lord, help us open ourselves up to the future that You have planned for us! Open us up to the Christmas that You have planned for us! We don’t know how to plan like You do. What You have in mind is much better, much more interesting, and much more wonderful than anything we have ever thought of.

The Only Truly and Absolutely New

In our second reading at Mass we hear one of St. Paul’s hymns, blessing the Almighty Father and rejoicing in the gift of Christ.

In the middle of the hymn, the Apostle blesses the Father for the wisdom with which He has made known to us the mystery of His eternal will. A plan laid-out before the foundation of the world has now come to pass in the fullness of time. Christ has saved us, and we have been sealed by His Spirit.

Pope Benedict commented on this part of St. Paul’s canticle, saying:

This is the great and secret project which the Father had kept to himself since time immemorial, and which He decided to bring about and reveal in the fullness of time, through Jesus Christ.

Now, I think most of us like new things. Who doesn’t like having fresh new sheets and pillowcases on the bed? Or the smell of a brand-new car? Or the excitement of meeting a new friend? Who doesn’t enjoy traveling to see new sights?

Continue reading “The Only Truly and Absolutely New”