December 21, 2010
The last chapter of the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Sacred Scriptures, paints in words a most beautiful scene of the River of Life flowing through the center of the new Jerusalem, who is the Bride of the Lamb. The River flows from the throne of God and the Lamb and allows for the nourishment of all through the trees of life irrigated by the water of the River.
The image is that of the mystery of God's Life, the life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That River has flowed eternally; the River is the beginning of all that is. But this great mystery remained hidden or only half-guessed until the fullness of time, when the Father sent His Son, the Lamb, who took flesh and dwelt among us. Then the River of Life begins to be named and received and its beautiful strength is sought out and appreciated.
The Season of Advent-Christmas-Epiphany is a season of grace, a yearly celebration of the surge of the River of Life into the midst of a desert landscape, the human condition withdrawn from and hiding from the loving God. God seeks us out and even thirsts for us, more than we at first thirst for Him. We need to learn the name of our own mysterious thirst. The name is "Jesus." He is the thirst implanted in us and is the person who can slake that thirst since He longs for every human being to come to Him and have life.
The history of the Old Testament is frequently a history of a thirst, of a search for living water, a history not surprising given the desert landscapes of Israel and Palestine. There are many accounts of Old Testament Patriarchs, prophets and wise people who keep digging wells to find water; their very act of digging, on a spiritual level, reveals their thirst, their desire to encounter the living God.
In the fullness of time, God defines the thirst further. He shows us the Virgin Mary. She is already prepared in pure body and soul to epitomize the loving thirst for the River of Life. She is also granted the first insight into how the River of Life is received. Her whole life takes the form of acceptance, of receiving completely God's message to come among us. In her acceptance of the message of the Angel Gabriel – in her active obedience to say yes to being the mother of the Savior – a new turn in the River of Life, a turn towards all of us, takes place. She has already carried the Word in her pure heart and now begins to carry the Word of God in her womb. Yes, the Word takes flesh and is born and lives among us. Infinitely large, He becomes small, even a baby. With His coming, the River of Life can gush to save, forgive, heal and bring energetic life to all.
The Son of the Virgin Mary, Son of God, the Lamb, is here among us. The Gift of God and the response of acceptance by the Virgin Mary to the Gift is one great act of joy. It ushers in a new Creation where all words fail but where many words are necessary just to catch a glimpse of God's glory so concentrated and distilled in such a marvelous conception and birth.
Sisters and Brothers, this is one way to examine and live and pray about the mystery of Christ's Nativity. There are a thousand other entrances. Allow yourselves to be carried along in this stream, in the River of Life. Delight in the humble birth of the One who is mighty Lord and slumbering child. Sing a lullaby and also kneel in wonder at such a mystery of Life: God became one of us!