Cloistered Dominican Nuns Corpus Christi Monastery

Merry Christmas from the Nuns!

Merry Christmas!

May God grant you and your loved ones peace and joy this Christmas season!

It is a tradition for us to hold a Joyous Chapter on December 23rd, in anticipation of Christmas.  Gathering in the chapter hall, the community prays Compline (the night office of the Church), which includes hearing the martyrology, the Gospel from the Mass of Christmas, and a reflection from one of the sisters – usually the youngest sister (in religion).  This year’s reflection was given by Sister Amata Marie, which we also share with you below.

 

GOD’S WAY IS NOT OUR WAY!

And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:12)

Looking at the manger scene, one has to humbly acknowledge that God’s way is not our way! Who would have thought the long awaited Messiah of the chosen people will be born in a stable?  Who would have thought the first one to be presented at the court of the Infant King would be the lowly, despised shepherds?  Who would have thought the Christ would set men free just by “the Truth”?  Who would have thought that God will save mankind by embracing the horrible and disputable death on the cross?  It is definitely God’s way through and through.  Throughout salvation history, countless patriarchs, prophets, judges, kings, and saints proclaimed and pointed to these contradictory signs.

The account of Christmas must be one of God’s most famous mixed-up-story of contradiction.  When Jesus was presented at the Temple, this was what Simeon prophesied about Him: He blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (Luke 2:34).

Tonight, we heard Saint Luke mentioned “a sign.”  What is the sign the angel gave to the shepherds to help them identify their Savior?  And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”  

An infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger!  What kind of sign is that for a Mighty Savior and King?  It might have been very well said that when Jesus enters a house, He turns things upside-down.  Israel cried out for a mighty warrior to deliver them, God sent them an infant: “a little child to guide them” (Is. 11:6).  Our Savior began his public ministry as a most ordinary man; so ordinary, in fact, that when Nathaniel was told about Him, Nathaniel exclaimed: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (Jn. 1:46)

God’s way is not our way!  He often “chose[s] the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong, and the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something” (1 Cor 1:27-29).  This is what our blessed Mother must have deeply felt when she lifted her voice in the Magnificat.

So what does Jesus really wish us to learn from this Gospel’s account?  Let us look again at the sign:

AN INFANT: Why did the Son of God choose to make himself known as a tiny, little baby in a manger?  The long awaited Messiah, the King of kings, Lord of lords, becomes a tiny baby:  a complete sign of weakness and helplessness.  The Eternal Word of God became a speechless baby.  For what, if not to teach us humility and obedience?  That is just His way.

WRAPPED IN SWADDLING CLOTHES:  Swaddling clothes: a piece of cloth belongs to the poor.  He, who adorns the magnificent sky, and beautiful flowers on earth such that “not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them” (Lk12:27).  Yet, he allowed Himself to be wrapped in swaddling clothes!  For what, if not to teach us the spirit of poverty?

Concerning clothing, St. Maximus of Turin said: “When the birthday of an emperor of this world is celebrated, his generals and princes and soldiers, arrayed in silk garments and girt with precious belts worked with shining gold, seek to enter the king’s presence; but “Christ our king does not demand splendid clothing so much as loving souls.  He does not look at bodily ornaments but considers the hearts.” (Sermons of St. Maximus of Turin, # 60).  That is just Jesus’ way.

AND LYING IN A MANGER:  Of all the places, why choose a manger?

How does the God of the universe, who provides every extravagant thing for his creatures, not allow Himself a most fundamental and basic human need – decent shelter?  A manger is a feeding trough for animal!  It is definitely not fit for human usage, let alone a crib for Mary’s tender baby!  Indeed, “fox have dens and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  From the very moment of His birth to his death, Jesus completely “emptied Himself” for our sake.  He became poor to make us rich.  For what, if not to show us the meaning of true love?  That is just so Jesus’ way!

We must heed Advent’s urgent message: “Be ready! Be watchful! Be alert!” (Mk 13:33).  We know that there are three comings of the Lord; the third lies between the other two.  At the First Coming, when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, He indeed turned things upside down.  The shepherds were astounded when they beheld the tiny poor, homeless Savior; the wise men were utterly at a loss when they paid homage to the little King in the cave.  But at the Second Coming, Jesus will set everything back to their rightful place. We have His assurance when He said: “when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him” (Mt 25:31).  It would be His Third Coming that really keeps us pondering and anticipating.  He truly comes to us every day.  Yet at each Christmas, what we are reminded to get ready for is how Jesus manifests Himself to us in our daily lives.

God’s signs of love are all around us.  Let us beg the Holy Spirit to grant us a clear, unclouded vision so we can recognize Our Sweet Jesus in whatever forms He chooses to come to us.  Let us adopt the childlike spirit of the shepherds so we may have room for God’s surprises; let us develop the wonder and openness of the Wise men to behold and understand what God wants us to see in the mystery of Christmas.  With Our Lady’s help, let us offer our hearts, no matter how ragged, dreary and narrow, as a dwelling place for Jesus.  He wants to turn it into a heavenly Paradise!  Let us be at awe and inflamed with love for Jesus whenever we behold him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in the manger.

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