LET’S CONTEMPLATE ON THIS CHRISTMAS
My Beloved Parishioners,
Christmas is God’s intervention into the daily events and affairs of mankind. God loves us so much that He has never abandoned us from the beginning of time. With His birth “Time merges with Eternity”.
God’s Divine presence was seen, felt, experienced and contemplated upon by Adam and Eve as they walked in the Garden of Eden. Adoration and worship of the true God, in total awe and wonder, first began in Paradise.
In the Book of Exodus, Chapter 3, Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why this bush is not burned up.” ‘Turning aside and seeing’ means to reflect and contemplate on the ‘Flame in the bush’ which signifies gazing at the Divine presence in the fullness of His holiness. Moses in adoration bows down on his knees on the ground in total contemplation and submission.
In the book of Exodus, Chapters 25 and 26, God instructed Moses to build the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ and ‘The Tabernacle’ which was called ‘The Dwelling Place of God’. As the Israelites journeyed through the wilderness, the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. The journey of the Ark of the Covenant among the Israelites in Scripture represented God’s presence, enabling the people and priests of Israel to reflect, ponder, meditate and contemplate in worship and adoration.
Prophet Isaiah announced the coming of the Messiah to the people of Israel who had turned away from their own God. Being wrapped up in pagan cultures and living in a world of darkness and evil, they were lost in idolatry and worship of pagan gods. Israel was losing their identity as God’s people, yet God was mindful of their sufferings and Isaiah prophesized, “The people in darkness have seen a great light.”
This Christmas season let us make a conscious effort to take time away from the festivities and celebrations to contemplate on the crib. Let’s not just be taken up by its commercial, glamorous and pompous outward aesthetic beauty. There is a deeper beauty we can discover in just remaining in silence, pondering and contemplating on the crib – God’s Divine manifestation, proclaimed by Isaiah as ‘EMMANUEL’ ‘God is with us’.
Baby Jesus in the crib invites us to have a deeper understanding of His coming into our world. He came… He comes for each one of us individually. As our Savior, He reminds us, “BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM YOUR GOD”.
Prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of the Messiah, born of a virgin from the house of David. Exactly so, it happened about 700 years later. The Angel appeared to Mary and said “…. He will be called the Son of the Most High’ (Lk 1:32). Mother Mary pondered and contemplated everything in Her Heart.
In Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah, He is called ‘The Prince of Peace’ How much our world is in need of peace, not just during Mary’s time but much more so in today’s times. Let’s pray for peace in our warring world.
The angel announced of the babe to be born of Mary, ‘His Kingdom will have no end’. It is over two thousand years since then and things seem to be going from bad to worse as the centuries roll on. How could you and I work to establish His Kingdom in and around us? Why is there no place for Him to be born in the ‘INN’ of our hearts?
With Mary, our Mother let’s continue to ponder and contemplate on these questions. Mary had to repeat her ‘YES’ to God in total contemplation every day and at every step of the way.
Joseph pondered and contemplated in the silence of his heart when the Angel appeared to him saying, “…do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife!” (Matthew 1:20). He was a humble, righteous man of unique calling with selfless dedication and respect for Mary. We see his greatness and godliness in being obedient to God’s plan. Joseph valiantly stood by Mary, as her faithful guardian and as the protector of the Divine child. As a man and head of the family, what can we learn from the life and faith of Joseph? How can I respond to God in total faith and responsibly go about my daily activities to safeguard my home and family?
The Wise men followed the bright Star, pondering and contemplating on the sign which shone from heaven, seeking to find the newborn king. Their contemplation led them to leave their home and country, everything and everyone behind to follow the Star. That bright Star led them away from familiar shores into the unknown. Let’s contemplate and reflect silently in the midst of our busy schedules – How much time could I devote to seek God in the Scriptures and Sacraments? Could I learn to renounce and leave behind familiar shores to OFFER MY BEST AND UNIQUE GIFTS in the service of the Lord?
The shepherds saw the bright light of Angels who announced to them “..to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior… You will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11,12). The shepherds fell on their knees in awe and wonder, meditating and contemplating in silence, adoring the glorious presence of the New Born Baby in a manger. Does spending a moment of silence before the Blessed Sacrament fill my soul with awe, wonder, joy and peace?
Let the Christmas Crib in our homes bring special joy and peace in our hearts as we sit together, around it and gaze intensely and contemplate closely on God’s immense, incomprehensible and mysterious presence among us. Let Him be born in the little mangers of our hearts.
The New Born Baby Jesus offers this newness, time and again, day after day, moment after moment and year after year. As we go through life, our experiences bring in new levels of maturity. Life changes just as the seasons, the climate, the books we read, the clothes we wear, our interests, our goals. We change, and everything changes. In the midst of a chain of changes happening every moment, we who unconsciously run a daily rat race, feel lost and desperate to keep pace with the rapid changes.
It’s time to Stop, take a break, ponder and contemplate on:
WHO ARE WE?
WHOSE ARE WE?
WHO HOLDS OUR FUTURE?
New Year is the time to refresh family ties that create belongingness into our communities, neighborhood, nation and the world. It is a challenge to look into the eyes of the other, to appreciate our differences, to recognize the pain or the joy lurking within; to feel, to bear, to suffer, to forgive, to heal, to grow and to belong. That is the gift we could exchange with one another as we wish each other a ‘Happy New Year’.
This Year let us not only just pray verbally but also contemplate on God’s love for us and meditate on His Word. May this New Year be for us a commitment in this direction. Let us discover more and more, that God who is born unto us, lives within us, walks with us, and leads us on until we find our Home in HIM.
Let’s Grow from a Believing to Belonging Community
From Verbal Prayer to Being a Contemplating Community
Along with my Clergy Team, I WISH YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR 2024!!
Fr. John Mascarenhas, SVD