Sunday, December 19, 2010

O Radix Jesse…

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

There is no mention of any moral worthiness, achievement or preparedness in Mary, only humble trust and surrender.  She gives us all, therefore, a bottomless hope in our own little state.  If we ourselves try to “manage” God, or manufacture our own worthiness by any performance principle whatsoever, we will never bring forth the Christ but only ourselves.

Mary does not manage, fix, control or “perform” in any way.  She just says “Yes!” and brings forth the abundance that Isaiah promises (Isaiah 48:17-19).  This is really quite awesome, and counters any economic notion of earning or performing.

Adapted from Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr, p. 32

I think that we have hardly thought through the immense implications of the mystery of the incarnation. Where is God? God is where we are weak, vulnerable, small and dependent. God is where the poor are, the hungry, the handicapped, the mentally ill, the elderly, the powerless. How can we come to know God when our focus is elsewhere, on success, influence, and power? I increasingly believe that our faithfulness will depend on our willingness to go where there is brokenness, loneliness, and human need.

If the church has a future it is a future with the poor in whatever form. Each one of us is seriously searching to live and grow in this belief, and by friendship we can support each other. I realize that the only way for us to stay well in the midst of the many “worlds” is to stay close to the small, vulnerable child that lives in our hearts and in every other human being. Often we do not know that the Christ child is within us. When we discover him we can truly rejoice.

Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey: The Diary of His Final Year (Sunday December 24, 1995, Freiburg, Germany). © Henri J.M. Nouwen. Published by The Crossroad Publishing Company.

I love these words—I am reminded of St. Bonaventure’s devotion to the poverty of the Blessed Virgin (see e.g. The Life of St. Francis, Ch.7) who brought nothing to her encounter with the angel, and asked for nothing, but simply surrendered. How can we respond, except in silence?

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