Body and Blood of Christ

Lectio

Drinking Well

 

Now is the time

          

Now at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken.  This census – the first – took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to be registered.  So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and travelled up to Judaea, to the town of David called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s House and line,  in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
     While they were there the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn.
     In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night.  The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, “Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people.  Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
     And suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to those who enjoy his favour.”


Luke 2:1-20


Lectio

I  f somebody told the Emperor, Caesar Augustus, that he would be in the Christmas story that would be remembered down through the centuries, he would have been pleased.  He might have been even more pleased to hear that he would be right there in the beginning of the story, “Now at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken.”  
     He might have asked, ‘What is the Christmas story?’  The answer would have been, ‘It is about the saviour of the world.’  He would have been pleased to hear this too; the whole story must be about himself, because he was acclaimed as the saviour of the world.  He had brought a long civil war to an end; with a huge army he had conquered all opponents.  He had created the Roman Empire.  He had maintained peace by force.  He had every right to be called ‘the saviour of the world.’
     He would have been taken aback to hear that in the Christmas story he was not the saviour at all, that he had only a small part in the story, and that the saviour of the world was born in an unknown town fifteen hundred miles away.  He would feel even more left out as the story went on.  When God sent his angels to announce the birth of the saviour, he did not send them to Caesar in Rome or to Quirinius the governor in Syria; he sent them to shepherds out in the fields.  

In a completely different way
All of this would make no sense to Caesar.  How could someone save the world without an army, without political power, without money? The Christmas story tells us that God saves the world in a completely different way.  He does not change or save it through the rich and the powerful, or through extraordinary leaders who put everything right, who fix the world economy and impose justice on those who would do wrong.

The saviour that God sends is from a poor family.  For most of his life he lives and works as a carpenter among ordinary people.  When he leaves home at the age of thirty, he does not go to the rich, but to poor people, and he gets them to join in his project to save the world.  The power he will use is not military or financial; it is the power of generous unselfish love.  

He included everyone in that love.  When he finds laws and customs that exclude people or weigh down on them or condemns them, he opposed these laws.  This finally cost him his life.  Always generous and loving, at the end he showed the full extent of his love: he laid down his life to save the world.

Into our world today
At Christmas we celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world long ago.  But we celebrate also his coming into our world today.  Where ever we see generous and unselfish love, there we see Jesus alive and at work in our world.  We see that love in family members, in friends and in strangers. We see it in people who believe in Jesus and follow his example; we see it in people who do not know him at all and yet are inspired to live with his generosity and unselfish love.  In and through all these good people, Jesus continues to change and to save the world today.

     

Prayer Psalm 97.
Sing a new song to the Lord
for he has worked wonders.
His right and hand his holy arm
have brought salvation.
All the ends of the earth have seen 
the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord, all the earth,
ring out your joy.
Sing psalms to the Lord with the harp
with the sound of music.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
acclaim the King, the Lord.

 

 

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ill at ease

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