Daily Reflection
December 24th, 2007

Joan Blandin Howard

Christian Spirituality Program
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Mass in the Morning
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Psalm 289:2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29
Luke 1:67-79

“It was the night before Christmas …”

As I reflect, I look out from my little prayer/meditation corner of our home onto the backyard garden. It is lovely – covered in a downy white of yesterday’s snow. The scarlet of the late fall roses is replaced by the darting scarlet of the cardinals. The chickadees, woodpeckers, finches and the occasional blue jay swoop and dive on and off the feeder peppering the white. The black squirrel hovers, waiting for a break in the action. I witness the silent commotion of life outside my window. There is a serenity; a space of un-distortable solace deep within me. I too hover and wait.

I wait. I yearn. I long. I desire. For What? For Whom? In a way it is not fair. I know that tomorrow is Christmas, it always follows Christmas Eve. Christmas, the day we Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. But I take a moment and recall that each year my longing has been unique. One of my earliest Christmas memories was wanting a bike. I was thrilled with my new second-hand bike. Another year, it was a desk; my own desk for my own things! My dad made it, or at least assembled and stained and varnished it. I still have that desk, anointed with the scoring and scars of two generations – mine and our sons. Then came the years when my waiting was the pregnancy of life, our children. One of my fondest memories was the Christmas my older sister and I made and stuffed stockings for our parents and grandparents. Their surprise and delight was surpassed only by my own. My longing had been for their delight. As a child of ten I had ignited the child in them! None of us had any idea what was in store for us that Christmas morning. This Advent, it is the pregnancy of a grandchild that fills my longing.

Notice in the first reading of Samuel; in response to David’s wanting to build the Lord a proper dwelling such as he himself had, the Lord questions “…Should you build me a house to dwell in?” The Lord reminds David of their personal relationship; the numerous times and incidents when the Lord has been present to David and what the Lord intends for David in the future. As if to say, and in return you want to build me a house? It is an in-your-face reminder that it is personal intimacy, relationship, and faithfulness that the Lord desires from David. The Lord is longing for David’s intimate response, not a house. It is not about the ‘what,’ but about the ‘whom’.

In the gospel, Luke reminds us in the words of Zechariah, that the Lord, God of Israel, has come to his people with mercy and compassion to set his people free and “to shine on those who dwell in darkness…and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” In his recent time of silence, Zechariah has had time to reflect on the past tender mercies of the Lord in his life and in the history of Israel. He reminds us of the covenant with Abraham whereby we are invited into a personal intimate relationship.

The longing is dual sided. The Lord continues to long for me while I continue to long. This Holy Longing that we mutually share is lived out in the reality of our human relationships. The Lord does not require sacrifice, but longs for the loving response to the incarnate Love which we will again joyfully celebrate tomorrow.

“It was the night before Christmas …”

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