Reflection on the Liturgy of the Day – from L’Année Liturgique, by Dom Prosper Guéranger
While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thy Almighty Word, O Lord, came down from Thy royal throne. Psalm. The Lord hath reigned, He is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded himself. Glory be to the Father…
O Almighty and Eternal God, regulate our actions according to Thy divine will: that, in the name of Thy beloved Son, we may abound in good works. Who liveth an reignest…
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Galatians, Chapter IV.
Brethren: As long as the heir is a child, he differes nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all: but is under tutors and governors, until the time appointed by the father: so we, also, when we were children, were serving under the elements of the world. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem them who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore, now He is not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir, also, through God.
Reflexion on the Epistle
The Child that is born of Mary and is couched in the Crib at Bethlehem, raises His feeble voice to the Eternal Father, and calls Him, “My Fatherˮ! He turns towards us, and calls us, “My Brethren”! We, consequently, when we speak to His Father, may call Him, Our Father! This is the mystery of Adoption, revealed to us by the great event we are solemnising. All things are changed, both in heaven and on earth: God has not only one Son, He has many Sons; henceforth, we stand before this our God, not merely creatures drawn out of nothing by His power, but children that He fondly loves. Heaven is now, not only the throne of His sovereign Majesty, it is become our inheritance, in which we are joint-heirs with our Brother Jesus, the Son of Mary, Son of Eve, Son of Adam, according to His Human Nature, and (in the unity of Person) Son of God according to His Divine Nature. Let us turn our wondering and loving thoughts, first to this sweet Babe, that has brought us all these blessings, and then to the blessings themselves, to the dear inheritance made ours by Him. Let our mind be seized with astonishment at creatures having such a destiny! and then, let our heart pour out its thanks for the incomprehensible gift!
Thou art beautiful above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in Thy lips. My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak my works to the King: my tongue is the pen of a scrivener, that writeth swiftly. Alleluia, alleluia. The Lord hath reigned: He hath clothed Himself with beauty: He hath clothed Himself with strength, and armed Himself with might. Alleluia.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to saint Luke, chapter II.
At that time: Joseph, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, were wondering at those things, which were spoken concerning Him. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His Mother: Behold, the Child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel: and for a sign, which shall be contradicted: and Thine own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a Prophetess, the Daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asar: she was far advanced in years, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years: who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving day and night. Now she, at the same hour, coming in, confessed to the Lord, and spoke of Him, to all that looked for the redemption of Israel And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city, Nazareth. And the Child grew, and was strong, full of wisdom: and the grace of God was in Him.
Reflexion on the Gospel
The passage of the Gospel selected for this Mass, though bearing on the Divine Infancy, yet gives us, and we may almost say prematurely, the terrible prophecy of Simeon regarding the dear Babe of Bethlehem. The heart of Mary, that was overflowing with joy at the miraculous Birth of her Child, is here made to feel the sword spoken of by the venerable Priest of the temple. Her Son, then, is to be but a sign that shall be contradicted! The mystery of man’s being adopted by God is to cost this Child of Hers His life! – We that are the redeemed in His Blood we may not yet dwell on the fatigues and the Passion and the Death of our Emmanuel; the time will come for that; at present, we are forbidden to think of Him other than the sweet Child that is born to us, and the source of all our happiness, by His having come among us. Let us catch up the words of Anna, who calls Him the Redemption of Israel. Let our eye delight in the sight of the earth regenerated by the birth of its Saviour. Let us admire and study well this Jesus newly born among us, and adore, in humble love, the wisdom and grace that are in Him.
During the Offertory, the Church celebrates the wonderful renovation wrought in the world, a renovation which saved it from destruction. She sings the praises of the great God who came down into the poor Stable of Bethlehem, yet left not His eternal throne.
God hath established the world, which shall not be moved; Thy throne, O God, is prepared from of old; Thou art from everlasting.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Almighty God, that this sacrifice, offered to Thy divine majesty, may obtain for us the grace of true devotion, and a happy eternity. Through Christ Our Lord…