Friday of the Third Week of Advent
Drawing from Jesus’ birth that was foretold by an angel (Luke 1:26-38), we hear how the birth of Samson (Judges 13:2-13, 24-25) and the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25) were also announced in a similar manner. Both new mothers are barren, but their sons will help to deliver the people back to YHWH. Both sons are consecrated to God from the womb; yet different people have different reactions to the story. In the first reading, the woman is first told about the birth of her son, but in the Gospel, it is Zechariah who is told about his wife’s upcoming pregnancy. While the woman does not question the angel, Zechariah does and he is struck mute as a result. Yet, regardless of the viewpoint, both of these stories serve as a prelude to the birth of Jesus, which is announced in the following verses of the Gospel (Luke 1:26-48). By listening to the events leading up to Jesus’ birth, let us be open to allowing Christ’s spirit of love to be once again be born in each of us.
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.