When we hear the sentence from the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Wisdom, “When all was in quiet stillness and the night was during its course,” just the sound of these words takes us beyond ourselves. Where do we go? We travel into a deep and safe silence that belongs to Christmas Eve.
There will be rejoicing in the morning but for this night let us remain in this silence. Darkness fills the space, the darkness of possibility, the womb, and life. Something is happening and we hold our breath. We make out the outline of the sky—we feel the clear cold of the night. We have no sense of time, just anticipation. Millions of stars appear in the night sky, and they seem to be dancing, as clouds spread over the moon. What is happening? I am alone but not alone, and I am not afraid.
If we had been there two thousand years ago, in the presence of God’s gift, the silence that slowly filled with light, it was as if the heavens opened to a new star—more brilliant than any other in the sky. Its light was accompanied by music, the most beautiful music; sounds of wings in the wind carrying the sound. The light reached out through the universe touching all the planets that now sparkled in the crystal cold of the night.
Then the light reached the earth --- our planet—our world, and in that microsecond, the WORD became flesh embracing all Creation. The singing of Gloria drowned out the sound of the wind. All we know is that we are part of all that is happening. The Mystery is beyond our attempt to understand what has happened. We find that we are lost and found in this Holy Mystery without any concept of time.
“The WORD became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Where is this dwelling? How can we find it? The 2nd chapter of Luke tells us that there were shepherds tending their flocks in a nearby field, and they saw the light and heard an angel say,
Do not be afraid for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For today in the city of David, a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be the sign for you, you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
And so, they went and found Mary and Joseph and they worshipped the child.
Tonight, we are drawn into the wonderful story of beauty, light, and joy that emanate from this humble family. The light of the new star also had been seen by astronomers in the East who had traveled to find what this sign could mean. They experienced the heavenly celebration until a gradual sense of peaceful silence filled the place. The music faded, the shepherds and Magi left, the animals calmed down, and even Joseph nods off in exhausted sleep.
But Mary, the Holy Mother is awake, cuddling and feeding her child, perhaps humming, and whispering. Her words may have been something like this: “Jesus so much has happened since Gabriel came last spring, most of which I do not understand. This may be what is ahead for us, and I may never know what is coming. But Jesus, the love I feel for you overflows into a million yeses. We will always do what God asks of us. That is our future. But dearest child, for right now, for this night, just be my baby."
Sister Bridget's reflection was inspired by Tchaikowski's Hymn of Cheribim Liturgy of St John Crysostom. She invites you to view this rendition on YouTube. Click Here for Link
– Sister Bridget Kiniry, OP
A resident of Dominican Convent, Sister Bridget is a preacher and
coordinator of the Days for Girls program there.