Reflection on the Liturgy of the Day – from L’Année Liturgique, by Dom Prosper Guéranger
Behold the Lord the Ruler is come: and dominion, and power, and empire, are in His hand. Psalm. Give to the King Thy judgment, O God, and to the King’s Son Thy justice. Glory be to the Father.
O God, who by the direction of a star, didst this day manifest Thy only Son to the Gentiles: mercifully grant, that we, who now know Thee by faith, may come at length to see the glory of Thy Majesty. Through the same Christ Our Lord…
Lesson from the Prophet Isaias. Ch. LX.
Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and Kings in the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all these are gathered together, they are come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side. Then shalt thou see and abound, and thy heart shall wonder, and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the strength of the Gentiles shall come to thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Madian and Epha: all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.
Reflexion on the Epistle
Oh! the greatness of this glorious Day, on which begins the movement of all nations towards the Church, the true Jerusalem! Oh! the mercy of our heavenly Father, who has been mindful of all these people, that were buried in the shades of death and sin! Behold! the glory of the Lord has risen upon the Holy City; and Kings set out to find and see the Light. Jerusalem is not large enough to hold all this sea of nations; another city must be founded, and towards her shall be turned the countless Gentiles of Madian and Epha. Thou, O Rome! art this Holy City, and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged. Heretofore, thy victories have won thee slaves; but, from this day forward, thou shalt draw within thy walls countless children. Lift up thine eyes, and see –all these, that is, the whole human race, give themselves to thee as thy sons and daughters; they come to receive from thee a new birth. Open wide thine arms, and embrace them that come from North and South, bringing gold and frankincense to Him, who is thy King and ours.
All shall come from Saba, bringing gold and frankincense, and publishing the praises of the Lord. Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Alleluia, alleluia, We saw His star in the east, and are come, with our offerings, to adore the Lord. Alleluia.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew. Chap. II.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of King Herod, behold there came wise men from the East, to Jerusalem, saying: Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to adore Him. And Herod, hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests, and the scribes of the people, he enquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda: for it is written by the Prophet: And thou, Bethlehem, the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule My people Israel. Then Herod privately calling the Wise Men, learned diligently of them the time of the star, which appeared to them: and sending them into Bethlehem, said: Go, and diligently enquire after the Child: and when you have found Him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore Him. Who, having heard the king, went their way. And behold the star, which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the Child with Mary, His Mother, (here, all kneel,) and falling down, they adored Him. And, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having received an answer in sleep, that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their own country.
Reflexion on the Gospel
The Magi, the first fruits of the Gentile world, have been admitted into the court of the great King Whom they have been seeking, and we have followed them. The Child has smiled upon us, as He did upon them. All the fatigues of the Iong journey – which man must take to reach his God– all are over and forgotten; our Emmanuel is with us, and we are with Him. Bethlehem has received us, and we will not leave her again– for, in Bethlehem, we have the Child, and Mary His Mother. Where else could we find riches like these that Bethlehem gives us? Oh! let us beseech this incomparable Mother to give us this Child of Hers, (for He is our light, and our love, and our Bread of life,) now that we are about to approach the Altar, led by the Star of our faith. Let us, at once, open our treasures; let us prepare our gold, our frankincense, and our myrrh, for the sweet Babe, our King. He will be pleased with our gifts, and we know He never suffers Himself to be outdone in generosity. When we have to return to our duties, we will, like the Magi, leave our hearts with our Jesus; and it shall be by another way, by a new manner of life, that we will finish our sojourn in this country of our exile, looking forward to that happy day, when life and light eternal will come and absorb into themselves the shadows of vanity and time, which now hang over us.
Mercifully look down, O Lord, we beseech Thee, on the offerings of thy Church, among which gold, frankincense, and myrrh, are no longer offered: but what is signified by these offerings, is sacrificed, and received, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord.
We have seen His star in the East: and are come with offerings to adore the Lord.
Such graces as these that you have received require from you a corresponding fidelity; the Church asks it for you in her Postcommunion; she begs of God to give you that spiritual understanding and purity, which these ineffable mysteries call for.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Almighty God, that our minds may be so purified, as to understand what we celebrate on this great solemnity. Through Christ Our Lord.