Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Finding the Cross in the Crèche

This article by Diana Macalintal originally appeared in Eucharistic Ministries, #225, December 2002.

Nativity-Cross by Benedetto Bonfigli [attrib] c. 1445 - http://www.beloit.edu/~classics/main/courses/fyi2000/museum/renaissance/
Our Advent and Christmas carols sound sweet upon the lips of children. But if we listen closely, we'll hear a weighty message that began with Mary's song of yes. Listen carefully, and learn what our carols teach.

“The King shall come when morning dawns.”
On Christmas and Easter morn, the first day and the last, Jesus is Lord to shepherds and grieving disciples alike, crowned as king in the wood of the manger and upon the wood of the cross.

“O come, all ye faithful. O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!”
Every church and mall will resound with this invitation. Yet it is a summons not only to Bethlehem but also to Calvary. When winter darkness is deepest, we cry out three times, “O come, let us adore him.” And when the spring moon is at its fullest, we venerate the wood with the same triple refrain, “Behold the wood of the cross. O come, let us adore.”

“Good Christians all, rejoice! Now ye hear of endless bliss; Jesus Christ was born for this! He has opened heaven’s door, and we are blest for evermore. Christ was born to save!”
To shepherds in the field, heaven was opened. To women at the tomb, the stone was rolled away. We look past the crèche to the cross and proclaim Christ was born to die. Christmas is not just about a child, but more fully about the one who did his Father’s will even unto death on a cross.

“We three kings,” bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
These are signs of homage and also symbols of the kingly, priestly, and prophetic role. The kingly gold becomes the thorny crown for the suffering servant. The incense of prayer and praise becomes the everlasting offering of Christ’s sacrifice. The myrrh, oil of sorrow, the way of life for those who would speak justice on behalf of the poor, becomes the oil of gladness that awaits those who give witness to the kingdom.

“Let all mortal flesh keep silence…Lord of lords in human vesture, in the Body and the Blood, he will give to all the faithful his own self for heavenly food.”
In the Incarnation, Christ became one of us. In our communion every Sunday, we become one with Christ and each other and recall that God was “veiled in flesh,” just like our flesh and just like that of our enemies. Christ’s becoming human is not a greeting card, but a promise. See in each other that same Christ-child, and hear in our music that same dying and rising that we all share with Christ our Lord.