Monday, December 28, 2020
Rogelio Zelada - Office of Lay Ministry
No doubt the great importance of Advent, Christmas, and the Epiphany lies in the virtue of hope. It involves the most absolute trust, not only in the certainty of what is expected, but in the power of the word of the one who is author of the promise. Hope is the hidden and transforming force that stirred all the characters who make up the great mystery of Christmas.
Without understanding it too well, the young maiden of Nazareth agrees to the plans that the celestial messenger announces to her. Mary's questions do not refer to the "what" but to the "how," a question that is answered when Gabriel makes it clear that everything will be the work of God, by the power of the Most High.
"Of him nothing surprises me"... I am totally available to the action of his word, "may it be done to me according to your word." The very young woman reflects an enormous maturity in her understanding of the divine mystery, unfathomable and incomprehensible from the human point of view, but clear and transparent for those who know how to place their trust in Him.
It was not so in the failed "annunciation" to the elder Zechariah. The celestial messenger who interrupted the work of the priest, not only dislodged him in the middle of the precise and meticulous ritual of the evening offering, but also announced to him the fertility of his lineage in the dry womb of Elizabeth, his wife. And Zechariah — who not only by trade and tradition must know full well that the entire history of his people is anchored in the story of Abraham, old and withered like him, who is capable of filling Sarah's womb with life — does not believe that the power of the Lord can be repeated in the bosom of his family. He will remain speechless, which is a major affront to an Israelite, for it will have to be Elizabeth, his wife, who will speak on his behalf from now on. Instead of putting all his trust in the Lord God of Israel, and acting accordingly, Zechariah pursues human approaches and certainties above the propositions of the Word of God.
On the cold silent night in the fields of Bethlehem, a clamor of angels awakens from their drowsiness a small group of shepherds who were guarding their flock from wolves and, most of all, from thieves. Without saying a word, from their simplicity, they are able to trust that inexplicable announcement and, as a result, go out to witness a sign that has come from above: a small child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, a very poor and ordinary feeding trough for the cattle. They have not heard anything about thrones, palaces or extraordinary luxuries and riches — what would be proper to a king of Israel — but quite the contrary. Nevertheless, they trusted in the word received, recognized in it the sound of God and sealed their hope with the sweet color of joy and enthusiasm.
Three eminent astronomers have discovered in the night of Babylon the unexpected radiance of a new, strong and brilliant star that shines in the constellation of Aries with an extraordinary splendor. Convinced, like all those of their time, that the birth of every human being was accompanied by the appearance of a new star in the sky — even today it is said that "a star is born" or that the "star is extinguished" — they sense that someone very important has been born in Israel (whose astrological sign is Aries, the lamb). Certainly, the newcomer is their king, and they set out to confirm it. Something absolutely inexplicable since, compared with the Babylonian Empire, Israel was an insignificant strip, a kingdom without power or autonomy. To reach it they had to make a very long and dangerous journey, for which they needed to carry countless provisions, servants, soldiers, animals, and more. It was a journey only justified by the power, courage and determination of that light that the "Magi" had seen in the middle of the night.
For those who have seen the light of Christ, everything is transformed in a radical and inexplicable way. Without understanding, without knowing the end of the road or its difficulties, they are able to walk only with the strength of his word. It is like the friends of Emmaus who, recognizing Christ in the breaking of the bread, are able to retrace their steps to Jerusalem, in the darkness of the night, without seeing the stones or the obstacles, as they are illuminated from within by the power of the word, which is light and source of inexhaustible trust.
As we wander through Advent and Christmas, the Church invites us to trust in the Providence of God, even without any understanding or comprehension, because only when everything ends and we see God, face to face, will everything reach its full meaning.