The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)


Today's Mass Readings


There are many ways that people over the centuries have expressed their deepest spiritual longing. Sometimes we call it a desire for salvation, or redemption or reconciliation; sometimes we describe it as a desire for wholeness, or peace, or union. One of the most recurrent images in all religions and all eras for speaking of this longing is the desire to see the face of God. That is our greatest longing, but also our greatest fear. As the people of Moses’ time knew, no one can look upon God and live. The brightness of God’s glory is too much for our eyes to withstand; the power and light of his divinity would consume our dark and weak humanity.

Yet John tells us today that we have seen his glory.

When Moses asked to see the glory of God on Mt. Sinai, God covered his eyes and only allowed him to look after the glory had passed. But that has changed. Since the first Christmas, God revealed his glory in his Son, Jesus Christ, not as blinding light but in simple humanity. People can look on the glory of God by looking on the child and later the man, Jesus Christ. Even though in us, our humanity prevents us from seeing God; in Jesus Christ, his humanity reveals God. When we look upon Jesus we see God.

God not only reveals himself in Jesus. By taking on our humanity, God has transformed all humankind. Now all people are able to behold the light of God, and become bearers of that light, like lampstands. The brightness of God’s glory can now be seen in the one who is hungry, in the one who is sick and in prison, and in the one who is sitting next to me; and in me when I love them as Christ loved us.

We have seen his glory, and we have been taken up into that glory. Now we no longer need a veil, as Moses did to protect his vision from the blast of God’s glory; rather, we reflect like mirrors the brightness of the Lord and grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect. This is why God clothed himself in our humanity, that we might clothe ourselves in his divinity.

On behalf of the monks of Conception Abbey, I wish to express to you our gratitude for your prayers and your kindness. You have made an immense impact on everyone here at Conception. We pray that Christmas will be for you a time of new life, of hope fulfilled, and of continued blessings and peace.

May the Son of God bless you and your family this Christmas and throughout the New Year! Know that you are in our prayers and hearts.

Reflection by Abbot Benedict Neenan, OSB

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