Gloria In Excelsis Deo!

Angel with Gloria banner.

The Song of Bethlehem by J.R. Clayton (1901)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirin’i-us was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2: 1-20—RSV)

Merry Christmas!

It’s Easy to Forget

Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem

Detail from the left panel of the Potinari Altarpiece, Hugo van der Goes (c. 1440- 82)

The Virgin, weighed with the Word of God, comes down the road: if only you will shelter her. —St. John of the Cross

I was looking for something to write about St. John of the Cross when I stumbled across this quote, taken—in all probability—from a longer Advent hymn he composed for his fellow friars. It is the perfect mindset to hold as we journey metaphorically toward Bethlehem.

It’s easy to forget in a secular season so given over to consumption, just how poor the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph were when they travelled to Bethlehem, or how destitute the setting was for the birth of the King of Kings. He wasn’t born in a palace, or, as most of us are today, in a hospital. He wasn’t even born at home, like almost everyone was in his time. He was born in a stable that according to Orthodox tradition was really a cave used to bed livestock. Even the humble little wooden barn found in most modern nativity sets is a step up from Jesus’ birthplace.

It’s easy to forget that there are still many people in the world as poor as the Holy Family were, and even in our own country some people whose relative poverty—campared to the surronding society—at least matches theirs. Homeless families that wander our streets daily seeking shelter.

It’s easy to forget, when most of us are struggling to make ends meet with a little left over to give our kids a Christmas they can enjoy, that some families can’t manage much more than to keep their kids fed, and sometimes have to skip a meal themselves to do so.

It’s easy to forget, but I’m trying to remember.

Today’s Advent selection is also based on the words of St. John of the Cross (via YouTube):

December 14

 Advent calendar graphics by Oh My Gluestick. They are intended for personal use only and may not be used commercially.