December 24, 2016
We all have our favourite Christmas Carols and often their tunes and words reach deep into our hearts in magical ways, heralding the message of the Incarnation. In
Oh Little Town of Bethlehem we sing of an everlasting light that shines in dark streets and, conversing in wonder with the Babe in the manger, we tell of how
the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Him tonight.
Our world news bears much foreboding to prolong our fears but Christmas is about the triumph of hope. Saint Paul saw how ‘
Everything that was written long ago in the Scriptures was meant to teach us about hope, showing how people who did not give up were helped by God’. (Rom 15:4). He explains how the virtue of hope means living our lives in the belief that God keeps His promises.
The Bible is the Book of God’s Promise made with His People through Adam and Noah, Abraham and Joseph, Moses, David and the Prophets, and the Christmas story is about how, in the end, God proves Himself as good as His Word. In the stable at Bethlehem - in the tiny Baby lying in a manger, with Mary and Joseph at His side, with Shepherds coming in from the fields and with the Wise Men making their way from pagan lands – God sums up and fulfils His Promise that He will be Our God and we will be His people. For a world afraid it has fallen too deeply into wickedness the Father names His Son Jesus, meaning
the One who saves us from our sins, and for a world anxious it has become godforsaken, He calls His Son Emmanuel,
a name which means God is with us, that God is on our side.
At Christmas Mary’s faith is given centre stage and no wonder. As Abraham in times past was our Father in Faith, Mary is Mother of all Faith in these Gospel times in a way that surpasses Abraham’s faith because, though on Mount Moriah Abraham was spared the sacrifice of his only son, Isaac, Mary knows, through Simeon’s prophecy in the Temple, that she will not be spared her only Son, Jesus, on Mount Calvary. Mary, in her own way, loses just as much as the Father, and the sword that pierces her heart really does make her co-redeemer with God.
So Mary is the
Stella Maris of Christ our Light. Her
Magnificat is the song of a Promise made and, after Simeon’s prophesy, she knows she will have to cling to it in terrible darkness, paying the ultimate personal price for it. Yet at the Cross, when all seems lost, she remembers God’s Promise through Gabriel that there is no need for her to be afraid because Her Son’s Kingdom will have no end and, depending on the Father’s word, she shows herself the Woman of Hope.
This Christmas time, when things may seem dark in our world and Church, we find strength in Mary’s faith that, in her Son God keeps his Promise and, in many ways, proves Himself even better than His word.
God’s blessings to all who work to bring us the wonderful Scottish Catholic Observer but, above all, to you, its readers. May you enjoy a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.