Sunday, December 23, 2012

Genesis to Luke: A Long Journey to Christmas

I found a pretty good guide for Christmas preparations yesterday:
  • Visit a live Nativity scene. Does it help you imagine Jesus's actual birth?
  • Read the seventh lesson from our Festival of Lessons & Carols and listen to the podcast.
  • Include the O Antiphon for today in your prayer.
  • Reflect on the Canticle of Mary in Chapter 1 of Luke's Gospel which is prayed every evening as part of Evening Prayer (or vespers) in the Liturgy of the Hours.
("Saturday of the Third Week of Advent;" December 22, 2012; Advent, Liturgical Resources, Prayer and Worship, USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops))

Minnesota Winters and Live Nativity Scenes

I didn't do the first item on that list. Even if there was a live Nativity scene here in Sauk Centre, I'd greatly prefer staying inside where it's warm.

Central Minnesota's climate is more - varied - than the eastern Mediterranean's.

An average low temperature for this time of year there is about 47 degrees Fahrenheit: above zero. Around here, it's colder. Quite a bit colder. The climate doesn't encourage going outside in reasonable imitations of 1st-century Middle Eastern clothing.

I spend a little time in front of a little Nativity scene my family set up in the living room, though. Did it help me imagine the birth of Jesus? I suppose so: it's a pretty good way to focus attention, at least.

Three Magi

The second item, today's entry in Festival of Lessons & Carols, is about the three wise men who came looking for the "newborn king of the Jews." They checked in with the region's ruler on reaching Jerusalem; and asked for help. (Matthew 2:1-12)

Happily, the magi didn't check in with the king on their way back. Joseph and Mary fled the country, and that's almost another topic.


Number three on the list, the "O Antiphon," went quickly. It's apparently called the "O Antiphon" because each of the seven responses starts with "O."1

By the way, "antiphon" isn't against anything, quite. The word means "a verse or song to be chanted or sung in response." (Princeton's WordNet)

The Canticle of Mary, and an Online Dictionary

I read the Canticle of Mary, Luke 1:46-55, which took care of part of the list's final item.

Reflecting on that passage from Luke doesn't mean holding a mirror in front of my computer's monitor, although I suppose it could.

"Reflect" means quite a few things. Princeton's WordNet gives an oddly unhelpful definition for the sort of reflecting the USCCB had in mind: "reflect deeply on a subject." (WordNet)

I mean to say: 'reflect means to reflect deeply???' The good news is that they also give a number of synonyms for that meaning:
  • Chew over
  • Think over
  • Meditate
  • Ponder
  • Excogitate
  • Contemplate
  • Muse
  • Mull
  • Mull over
  • Ruminate
  • Speculate
    (Princeton's (WordNet)
After chewing and thinking over Luke 1:46-55, I meditated, pondered, excogitated (yes it's a real word), contemplated, mused, mulled over, ruminated, and even speculated. I also got distracted by other Advent readings.

By the time I was through, I had the rest of this post written.

A Promise Made, a Promise Kept

The first of those "Festival of Lessons and Carols" lessons included a reading from Genesis 3. That's where Adam tries to blame his wife, and God, for the mess they're in. (Genesis 3:12)

That bit of evasion ended about as well as could be expected. With 20-20 hindsight, we see a hint that humanity had hope:
"Then the LORD God said to the serpent: 'Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; On your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life.

"3 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.' "
(Genesis 3:15)

Footnote 3 for Genesis 3 (NAB)

"...He will strike . . . at his heel: since the antecedent for he and his is the collective noun offspring, i.e., all the descendants of the woman, a more exact rendering of the sacred writer's words would be, 'They will strike . . . at their heels.' However, later theology saw in this passage more than unending hostility between snakes and men. The serpent was regarded as the devil (⇒ Wisdom 2:24; ⇒ John 8:44; ⇒ Rev 12:9; ⇒ 20:2), whose eventual defeat seems implied in the contrast between head and heel. Because 'the Son of God appeared that he might destroy the works of the devil' (⇒ 1 John 3:8), the passage can be understood as the first promise of a Redeemer for fallen mankind. The woman's offspring then is primarily Jesus Christ."
Much more recently, God's promise became a bit clearer. (Isaiah 11:1-10)

Then, about two millennia back, everything changed.

Two Messages

Gabriel had a message for an old man. Zachariah asked for proof, and got it. (Luke 1:13-25, particularly Luke 1:20)

Six months later, Gabriel was back, this time with a message for a young woman:
"10 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,

"to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary."
(Luke 1:26-27)
Mary had a question, too:
"But Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?' 12"
(Luke 1:34)
Mary got proof: the unexpected pregnancy of her relative, Elizabeth. (Luke 1:36)
"...Mary's questioning response is a denial of sexual relations and is used by Luke to lead to the angel's declaration about the Spirit's role in the conception of this child (⇒ Luke 1:35). According to Luke, the virginal conception of Jesus takes place through the holy Spirit, the power of God, and therefore Jesus has a unique relationship to Yahweh: he is Son of God."
(Footnote 12 for Luke 1 (NAB))

"All Power in Heaven and Earth"

Mary's son grew up, and was recognized as the Son of God. (Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 16:16)

Later, Jesus of Nazareth was killed, stopped being dead, had a series of meetings with his followers, and gave instructions before leaving. (Matthew 28:9-10John 20:26-27; Luke 24:41-43; Matthew 28:19-20)

Quite a bit has happened since then. Kingdoms grew and faded, empires rose and fell, civilizations changed; but those final instructions haven't changed:
"11 Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

"Go, therefore, 12 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,

"teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 13 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.' "
(Matthew 28:18-20)
Methods we use have changed, particularly in the last few decades: and that's another topic.

So are the reasons I'm not upset about what we've been learning, particularly in the last few centuries, about this creation. Lots more topics.

More-or-less-related posts:

1 "O Antiphon:"
"The Roman Church has been singing the "O" Antiphons since at least the eighth century. They are the antiphons that accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer from December 17-23. They are a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative 'Come!' embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah."

"December 17
"O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!

"December 18
"O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!

"December 19
"O Root of Jesse's stem, sign of God's love for all his people: come to save us without delay!

"December 20
"O Key of David, opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!

"December 21
"O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.

"December 22
"O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

"December 23
"O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!"
(From "Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers")

No comments:

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.