Let us begin the liturgical year with Advent as a time of preparation for Christmas. Let us light the first of the four candles of the Advent wreath, a contemplative sign reminding us of the great moments of the History of Salvation. Come, come Lord, do not delay! Strengthen the attitude of waiting for the great Mystery of Incarnation, a great light that will shine in the life of the world (cf. Mt 4:16). Let us briefly reflect on the three signs that we contemplate during this time of grace: 1. The Crib 2. The elements of bread and wine 2. Fraternity.
- The Crib: Among the typical signs of this liturgical season, the Crib is a place of contemplation of the Mystery of Incarnation. It awakens a sensitivity to dialogue with others in both family and community environments. God becomes a child to be welcomed in our arms. In human weakness and fragility he hides all his power and transforms himself into a God of tenderness and love beheld in the innocence of a child. The Crib is a sign filled with meaning for Christians, enabling us to feel involved in the History of Salvation and to actualize the event of Bethlehem: “its portrayal in the crèche helps us to imagine the scene. It touches our hearts and makes us enter into salvation history as contemporaries of an event that is living and real in a broad gamut of historical and cultural contexts.” [Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter Admirabile Signum n.3, 1 December 2019].
- The elements of Bread and Wine: The Eucharist is the treasure that synthesizes the History of Salvation, actualizing the evangelizing itinerary of Jesus Christ and confirming the Christian experience. This liturgical season is an important one to underline, relive and rediscover the essence of the new command of love announced and lived by Jesus: “Love one another” (cf. Jn 13:34). To translate into practice the love of God for us, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).
This year 2020 the whole of humanity has lived an experience of the desert through the Covid-19 pandemic, affecting everyone, taking away millions of lives, among whom some of our brothers. This pandemic has created situations of panic, uncertainty and changes of projects. The Eucharist sheds light on how to face problems of indifference and to be discerning regarding problems, conflicts and human fragility, a situation already faced by Fr Eymard in his time. It is time to make our own the culture of encounter promoted by Pope Francis by expressing in our own life the dimension of unity in diversity, this being a fundamental Eucharistic principle.
- Fraternity: “Our whole life as Blessed Sacrament religious is based on the celebration of the Paschal Mystery” (Message of the 35th General Chapter). This affirmation recalls something of primary importance for us, “the cenacle”: a place of fraternity, communion and contemplation. In almost all the Catholic churches there can be seen some sign of the Crib, recalling the spirit of Christmas.
God incarnates himself in Mary to become a human being so that we may contemplate Emmanuel, “God with us”, taking on our human condition and shining in our lives. In this way the great Mystery of Salvation illumines the path of our existence in order that we may respond to the great issues pertaining to a search for its meaning.
“Who am I? Where do I come from? Why was I born at this time in history? Why do I love? Why do I suffer? Why will I die? It was to answer these questions that God became man. His closeness brings light where there is darkness and shows the way to those dwelling in the shadow of suffering (cf. Lk 1:79).” [Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter Admirabile Signum n.4, 1 December 2019].
Let us prepare our heart like the Crib, to welcome in grace the “Emmanuel” into our life, for him to reach to the peripheries of our existence, to discern the sense of fraternity as an essence of the Eucharistic life and to improve our Christian and religious life.
Merry Christmas to the Eymardian Family present in the different geographic areas of the world! May the light of Christmas illumine our journey of faith and our adhesion to the Eucharistic Christ!
4th of December 2020
Deacon Elibien Joseph, sss