Intention: We pray for a faith-filled and transforming Christmastime for our world, one that fills it with peace, justice, and good will toward all.
Today’s Gospel | Luke 1:67-79
Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel for he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David.
Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Reflection for the Eve of the Birth of our Lord
On the eve of our Lord’s birth, the people of Israel were anxious. They were living through hard times, contending daily with insecurity, deprivation, and oppression. In their struggles, they looked to their scriptures and to God’s promise of deliverance. And they were greeted with the sight of a single star, and the good news that a door had been opened to their salvation. Today, we might ask ourselves if this scenario is as far in the past as we think. Look around. Modern everyday life, too, is blighted by widespread poverty, indiscriminate violence, shameless corruption, stubborn prejudice, and callous indifference. After all this time, with all that we have learned and accomplished, there are still people who are forced to exist without sustenance, without dignity, without fulfillment for themselves and their families. For them, the world is as a cold and cruel a place as ever. And so, once again, on a Christmas Eve we are moved to ask if we might receive the mercy of a caring and redeeming power, one who fills darkness with light and defeats sin with love. Our faith tells us yes. Our experience tells us that there is more to the equation. For brokenness and despair to not have the final word, we must accept and join the redemption that has come to dwell among us. For the world’s cycle of ignorance and injustice to be ended, we must open our hearts and repair our ways. For there to be liberation from fear and peace for all, we must repudiate the power of domination and embrace the strength of compassion. Nothing will change unless we change, and we will not change as long as we remain ensconced in lifeless ways. The Son of God was born that we might have life and life to the full. The time of Advent is a time for rebirth.
Eternal Father, your love is everlasting. You are our God and we are your people for all eternity. As we ready ourselves to welcome your Perfect Presence in the coming of your Son, may we prepare a place for him in our hearts. Take away our smallness and our fears, and rekindle in us the fire of our faith. Make us ready to receive the gift of our salvation as he seeks to dwell with us and fill us with the light of newborn peace, hope, and love. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.