25th December 2020
Year B – Psalter week 4
During the first part of Advent our focus was upon the second coming of Christ and the truth we profess in the Creed that Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.” During the latter part of Advent and over this Christmas season, our gaze turns to the first coming of Christ as he is conceived in Mary’s womb and is born in Bethlehem.
But what of the time between these first and second comings of Christ? Is there simply a spiritual void as we look back to the past or look forward to the future? Saint Bernard of Clairvaux spoke of this time we live through as being a “middle coming” of Christ. He puts it this way: “The first coming was in flesh and weakness, the middle coming is in spirit and power, and the final coming will be in glory and majesty.”
We celebrate the Christmas story every year not just as an historical event which we look back on, but as a re-living of those events in the Church’s liturgy, and in a way that should transform our lives. This “middle coming” of Christ, says Saint Bernard, is in “spirit and power”. He is talking about the gift of the Holy Spirit that the risen Jesus bestows upon the Church and upon each one of us. This is not a one-time event, but rather a continual outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
It is a misconception to think of Christ’s first and second coming as being two completely separate events. While God’s kingdom will only be fully realised at the second coming, even now God desires to manifest his glory more powerfully in our lives and in our world. On this point, a French Jesuit Cardinal and theologian said the following: “The Messiah has come, but is not yet fully manifest. The Messiah is not fully manifest in each of our souls, not fully manifest in humankind as a whole: that is to say, that just as Christ was born according to the flesh in Bethlehem of Judah, so must he be born according to the Spirit in each of our souls.”
As with Advent, the season of Christmas is about opening ourselves up, in hope and expectation, to Christ’s reign coming more powerfully in our lives here and now. Each Christmas is an invitation from God to open our hearts more fully to His love, peace, light and joy. These are not feelings or states of being that we can manufacture or create for ourselves through material wealth, physical comfort, or any other means. Rather, they are spiritual gifts of heaven which only the Lord can bestow through the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Have a peaceful and joy-filled Christmas!
 From a sermon of St Bernard of Clairvaux presented in the Office of Readings on the 2nd December.
 Cardinal Jean Daniélou, quoted in “An Advent Sourcebook” (LTP, 1988), p. 87; from The Advent of Salvation (Franklin, WI: Sheed and Ward Publishing, 1962).
Sunday Message and Look
Download this weeks Sunday Message and Look (for our younger parishioners) by clicking on the images, for all the readings for this week, as well as the prayers during mass and the usual weekly thoughts and reflections.
A hallowed day has dawned upon us. Come, you nations, worship the Lord, for today a great light has shone down upon earth. Alleluia!