The Catholic Calendar for Monday, December 21, 2009
Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent
St. Peter Canisius, priest and doctor of the Church

Scripture from today’s Liturgy of the Word:
Song of Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18a
Psalm 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21
Luke 1:39-45

A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:

How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
(Luke 1:43)

Each year for the past five Christmases, a special manger has sat beside our Christmas tree. I’d been searching for the perfect Nativity set since I was married nearly 30 years ago, but never found one that suited my heart, and since my mother knows precisely my taste, was also on the lookout for just the right one.

The day she found it, it was summertime. She excitedly called to tell me how she’d come across it at a garage sale for just $2.00. She knew the moment she saw it that I’d love it and couldn’t wait for me to see it. She was right. The next time I visited, I was thrilled as she carefully pulled the manger and each statuette out of the box. Although it was daylight, we plugged in the cord and together admired each of the figures the little bulb was illuminating. It was a special moment between us, and our hearts leapt for joy like the child in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary greeted her!

Later that year when the Christmas season arrived, I couldn’t wait to set up the manger and its figurines. It was an old set, but well preserved; similar to the one I’d grown up with. Whoever owned it previously had kept it intact, but now, for reasons unknown to me, could no longer carry on their tradition. So I was doing it for them, and would see to it that their joy would be shared with new Christmas visitors. My last task was to hook the angel carrying the banner, “Gloria” onto the tiny nail at the top of the roof. I plugged in the light, and my heart leapt for joy all over again.

As guests would look in at our Christmas tree, they’d each have a different, but wondrous reaction as their eyes reached my “new/old” manger. One quietly gasped and another drew near and gazed into the welcoming glow the little bulb was giving as it streamed light onto the three Wise Men who never stopped seeking Jesus the way I never stopped seeking what is now the most significant part of my Christmas. I was pleased for the faith and wonder of my guests and silently prayed for them the way Elizabeth did when Mary greeted her in today’s Gospel, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)

I especially remember the reaction of a friend who, unable to call to mind the name, “Holy Family,” asked me, “Is that the Loving Family?” “Yes,” I answered. “It is.”

~ Elizabeth A. Tichvon |

Today’s O Antiphon:

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.”

The “O Antiphons” are sung at Evening Prayer from December 17 to 23. See text and more information.



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