Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Benedictus


Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, He has visited His people and redeemed them.
He has raised up for us a Mighty Savior, in the house of David, his servant,
as He promised by the lips of holy men, those who were His prophets from of old.
A Savior who would free us from our foes, from the hands of all who hate us.
And so His love for our fathers is fulfilled and His holy covenant remembered.
He swore to Abraham our father to grant us
that free from fear and saved from the hands of our foes,
we might serve Him in holiness and justice, all the days of our lives in His presence.
As for you, little child, you shall be called a prophet of the Most High.
You shall go ahead of the Lord, to prepare His ways before Him,
to make known to His people their salvation, through forgiveness of all their sins.
The loving-kindness of the heart of our God, who visits us like the dawn from on High.
He will give light to those in darkness and those who live in the shadow of death,
and guide us into the way of peace.

* * *
Today we watched the dawn rise in the East, and I thought about how God really has visited his people, just like the dawn, that comes from on high. In the light that he sheds on our humanity, we can begin to see what lies behind, beneath, at the foundation of everything -- Love, loving-kindness and mercy that is infinite. How breath-taking that this mercy is there, generating us, making us live, shaping us in dignity -- that it was there before the foundation of the world, before we could ask for it, before we knew we needed it.

As he promised by the lips of holy men -- how miraculous that he could translate his promises into human words that we can understand and follow! It takes a heart full of love, full of holiness, to hear these promises and to share them with others. The Truth of the world is a person -- how can we even wrap our minds around this fact, that God has made known to us.

Who are our foes, and who are those who hate us? No person is a worse enemy, more hateful to me, than my own sin. In fact, it is my own sin that makes it possible for any other person to be my enemy. Jesus had no enemies, even as a crowd of angry people tortured and killed him -- because his love and forgiveness transformed the evil and hatred into redemption -- salvation -- that was available, even to those who attacked him. How amazing it is to begin to realize that there is something worse than a mortal attack on our bodies! How mysterious that even an attack on our inner life, rejection, can only harm us if our response does not correspond to the way he responded from the cross.

All the days of our lives in his presence -- all our days are spent in his presence! But we need children to show us our connection to this constant presence of Love and goodness. We need to have the heart of a child, a poor heart, open and waiting and expecting this goodness we've been promised.

How do we prepare his ways before him? Examine the life of John the Baptist, from his very first leap of joy to the message of repentance that he proclaimed, relentlessly. Today, we should all take a moment to literally leap for joy! This thing that has happened to us is so beautiful, so astonishing, so miraculous! God's Word is a person who visits us, placing light where there was darkness, hope where there was fear, and love where there was nothing but dust and sand.

The way of peace -- it is forgiveness, leaning on the forgiveness of God, the mercy won for us through Jesus, whose attention to us was so acute, so full of passion for us. Let's be acute like that! Let's live full of passion! Let's leap again and again!




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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."