Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Giving

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2012

Christmas preparations at Bethlehem Monastery in Barhamsville are almost complete! 

Our newest members have proven to be marvelous festive bakers and wonderful decorators.  They decked the downstairs halls with boughs of holly and greenery yesterday while the rest of us tackled the other rooms of the monastery. 


Tonight we will place the ornaments on the lighted trees.  Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, Mother Abbess will distribute the donated poinsettias which will add their vibrant red to the quiet evergreens.  Their contrasting colors seem to echo the song of the heavenly host, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace…”

This is the season for giving gifts, and our benefactors inundate us with their loving generosity, for they see in faith the gift we have made of ourselves to God on their behalf.  In today’s second reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews says that when Jesus entered our world, He said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me…as is written of me in the scroll, behold I come to do your will, O God.”  Until Christ came, mankind could only offer token sacrifices to God, but now, in Jesus, we can offer ourselves along with Him to the Father, by the action of the Holy Spirit.  Poor Clares are called by God to image this reality in a radical way.  When we enter the cloister, we too echo Jesus’ words:  behold I come to do your will, O God!”  Possessing nothing in poverty and possessed by no one but Him alone, we are exclusively His.  Yet our union with Him is not a closed circle, but a fruitful nuptial embrace that expands to include the whole world.  We are Sisters to all of creation and every human being is our child whom we nurture with loving prayer.

May each and every one of you be blessed this Christmas with the gift of divine peace which comes from the assurance that God is with us, Emmanuel!

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