LECTIO DIVINA

ON THE SOLEMNITY

OF  THE  BIRTH  OF  THE  LORD

by   Mother Abbess Marianna Pinto O.S.B.

 

I

1. Christmas as sacrament and school of our Christian Communities

 

Countless scriptures testify to the tension of the Old Covenant, as its  homage towards the  New  Covenant.

An  extraordinary  biblical  synthesis  is  the Lucan  text  2: 22-35. The meeting with Simeon is a genuine paradigm of redemption itself: at last, his eyes can see the Messiah of the Lord, whom he proclaims salvation and the light of the peoples. But in the words he addressed to the Mother, is proclaimed the prophecy of the Suffering Servant to be sacrificed, while the same  Mother  will be a part of the redemption accomplished by the Son.

The extraordinary thing is that the agent, one who realizes the mystery announced, is the Holy Spirit, "that was on him," writes St. Luke, and inspired Simeon to go to the temple, where the meeting will take place (Ipapanti).
The economy decided by the Father relies on the Spirit: He will realize and carry out the mystery. This is even more evident in the passage where St. Luke writes (1: 26-38)  as the incarnation of the Word was fulfilled.

So in the Lucan text echoes some important prophecies of the Old Testament: Genesis 49:8 - 9 where Jacob prophesies that the Messiah will come only from Judah (prophecy fulfilled and explained by John in Revelation 5:5, "has won the lion of the tribe of Judah"), Malachi 3, Daniel 9: 2 Sam. 6, Isaiah 49:6.

So in the economy of the Father, two are the principal Agent: the Holy Spirit and Mary.
Mary’s prayer (Magnificat) is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time.
The motive why our Liturgy of Ours at Vespers, every day and without end, sings the Mary’s prayer-obedience to the divine plan of human salvation is because since the initial organization of the official prayer of the Church, the Mary’s Magnificat  has always been one of the cornerstone of the Divine Offfice.
Before the incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father’s plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ’s conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, his Body. In the faith of his humble handmade, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had waited from the beginning of time. She responds to God with obedient humility, offering her whole being: Fiat, let it be (done) to me according to your word   (cf. CCC  2617)

Mary is then the school of the Christian prayer, where we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, to obey him, to trust in him. Mary can teach us how  to abandon ourselves to the will of God, as she did.: Thy will be done  (cf. CCC  2677).

The humble listening to the Word of God, the obedience of faith, and the adherence to the perfect will of God  relive the conditions to receive the grace of Christmas.
The great model then is the Virgin Mary in whose womb the pure Word of God is clothed in mortal flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mary is the source of Christmas, because of his humble obedience to the will of God, she conceives by the Holy Spirit the divine Saviour, which makes her the temple of the new covenant.
Therefore Mary is sign of the new humanity, because it gives birth to new men, in which all must be born again, always Spiritu Sancto adjuvante, with the work of the Holy Spirit.
In Luke 1:39-45 Elizabeth speaking in the Holy Spirit exalts the faith of Mary. In her, all women are blessed, and it becomes all Christians an example of total trust in God.
Our Benedictine monasteries should  sustain  the Christians and the whole world with this message of hope: today's society laks hope, because it does not rely on God, it does not trust God.
We sons and daughters of St. Benedict we help Christians to keep the true spirit of Christmas.
Our Monasteries help the Christian society to preserve the true spirit of Christmas by giving precedence to the criterion of faith.
So Mary, the Mother of Jesus is even more in these holy days of the sacramental celebration of Christmas, the true Master of our monastic school. She cries out to God his due, because God has looked upon his handmaid's poverty.
Our Lady may teach us to say thanks, so that our monasteries may become schools of gratitude.

Our Merry Christmas may be a wish not void of the essential elements of our Christian faith.

Here we give for further meditation the wonderful text of the Ven. Bede on the Magnificat

A commentary on Luke by the Venerable Bede

The Magnificat

And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.
The Lord has exalted me by a gift so great, so unheard of, that language is useless to describe it; and the depths of love in my heart can scarcely grasp it. I offer then all the powers of my soul in praise and thanksgiving. As I contemplate his greatness, which knows no limits, I joyfully surrender my whole life, my senses, my judgement, for my spirit rejoices in the eternal Godhead of that Jesus, that Saviour, whom I have conceived in this world of time.
The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
Mary looks back to the beginning of her song, where she said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. Only that soul for whom the Lord in his love does great things can proclaim his greatness with fitting praise and encourage those who share her desire and purpose, saying: Join with me in proclaiming the greatness of the Lord; let us extol his name together.
Those who know the Lord, yet refuse to proclaim his greatness and sanctify his name to the limit of their power, will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven. His name is called holy because in the sublimity of his unique power he surpasses every creature and is far removed from all that he has made.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy.
In a beautiful phrase Mary calls Israel the servant of the Lord. The Lord came to his aid to save him. Israel is an obedient and humble servant, in the words of Hosea: Israel was a servant, and I loved him.
Those who refuse to be humble cannot be saved. They cannot say with the prophet: See, God comes to my aid; the Lord is the helper of my soul. But anyone who makes himself humble like a little child is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
The promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.
This does not refer to the physical descendants of Abraham, but to his spiritual children. These are his descendants, sprung not from the flesh only, but who, whether circumcised or not, have followed him in faith. Circumcised as he was, Abraham believed, and this was credited to him as an act of righteousness.
The coming of the Saviour was promised to Abraham and to his descendants for ever. These are the children of promise, to whom it is said: If you belong to Christ, then you are descendants of Abraham, heirs in accordance with the promise.
But it is right that before the birth of the Lord or of John, their mothers should utter prophecies; for just as sin began with a woman, so too does redemption. Through the deceit of one woman, grace perished; the prophecies of two women announce its return to life.


Responsory

All generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name.
His mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him. Holy is his name.


Let us pray.
God and Father,
you looked in pity on fallen man

 

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