A Shepherd's Message - Dec. 24, 2013

December 24, 2013

There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu;

For in this rose contained was Heaven and earth in little space;
Res Miranda.

(Early English Carol, 15th. Century)

The Christmas Season is well-nigh upon us, the time we celebrate together the "might" and "heart" of God.

The Lord is powerful in His Word, eternal Word that takes Flesh, but equally loving and merciful.  God is so immense that He can be courteous! He even asks our permission to let Him come to us and change us into Himself, trickle by trickle.

The earlier the Christmas Carol the better the text; this is DiNardo's rule, totally un-provable but verifiable anecdotally by the same DiNardo. Take, for example, the jewel-like carol quoted at the beginning of this article.

The Virgin is a wondrous flower that gave birth to something even more wondrous, "Res Miranda," to Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth and a little baby at the same time. Such economy of expression! The might of God came to our rescue; the "heart" of God did so in such a way as to calm us in our fears, especially our sense of fear at the show of immensity and power.

The early Church thought and wrote that Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word — abbreviated! He is short and small as an infant in the manger, so simple.

He is also the great summary of all the complex dealings of God with His people in the Old Testament — all the diverse, varied and intricate ways God spoke and acted in creation, in the Law of Moses and in the prophets. Such complexity and variety can be bewildering. So the Father brilliantly abbreviated everything in His Son who came among us.

What is simpler than a child in the manger! Now God's love and power can be grasped in one instantaneous infant smile turned towards Mary and Joseph, and towards us. Mangers are where animals feed.

The prophet Isaiah wrote that an ox knows its owner's manger but Israel does not know the Lord. When the Lord Himself came to the manger — all of us dumb oxen can now recognize Him and prove the words of Isaiah ultimately incomplete. We DO know the Lord now in the simplicity of His Son becoming one of us. Simplicity of heart and beauty capture us. This is the reason behind the great popularity of Pope Francis and the interest of many people of all faiths in Pope Francis' message and deeds.

Humility really does shine; simplicity and courage and respect for persons really does illuminate.

May the "little Word made Flesh" shine upon you and in you and all your families and friends. May the Son of God and Son of Mary be our great encouragement and hope.

From all of us at the Chancery, from Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz, Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, Bishop Vincent Rizzotto and all clergy and religious, to all of you faithful and friends of this local Church.

Merry Christmas! †