Dec. 23, 2020

Wednesday of the 4th Week of Advent

1st Reading MAL 3:1-4, 23-24

Psalm PS 25:4-5AB, 8-9, 10 AND 14

Gospel LK 1:57-66

O Antiphon

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!

Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand. – Responsorial Psalm

Today is the last day of the O Antiphons. Why? The O Antiphons are typically recited at Evening Prayer, before the Magnificat. And tomorrow is Dec. 24, Christmas Eve. The evening of Dec. 24 is already the vigil for Christmas Day, so….no O Antiphon for the evening of Dec. 24. Today is the end; my family is quite thankful that this final verse is so familiar!

I recently re-watched the movie The Nativity Story. What it does so well is to capture the wildness of God’s plan and the deep faith and trust of those involved. Mary’s “yes” was beautiful, but complicated. Joseph was willing to take on quite a lot. Neither one had bargained for such an unconventional life. Both were able to trust completely in God’s word and in one another.

Mary and Joseph did not know how the story went, for they were living the story. There was no comfortable tradition in the going to Bethlehem, the birth in the stable, the star in the East, the shepherds and wise men. Each part of the narrative unfolded in front of their very eyes, and it was full of wonder and awe, but also a great deal of uncertainty.

In this uncomfortable and uncertain year of 2020 (and events already unfolding that make it seem that 2021 may begin in a rough manner), it is good to remember that that our faith was not built on comfort. The pretty nativity scenes and Christmas cards are art. What really happened was unrefined, rough, unfiltered.

O come, O come, Emmanuel!

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