A short reflection given by one of our sisters for the First Vespers of Christmas.

We have just sung the antiphon: “The Word of God born of the Father before time began, humbled himself today for us and became man”. Again at 2nd Vespers we will sing: “The Word was God in the beginning and before all time, today he is born for us, the Saviour of the world”.

I would like to focus on the word ‘today’ which occurs so often in our Christmas liturgy. In our celebration of this wonderful feast of Christmas God’s eternal unchanging day breaks into our temporal day and we are caught up in the mystery of God.

The Father eternally begets the Son in an act of total self-emptying love while the Son eternally receives His entire being in an act of total self-surrendering love, totally pouring himself out in response to the total love of the Father. This eternal generation takes place in the bond of loving union who is Himself the Person of the Holy Spirit. This is the mystery, which breaks into our world of time in the human birth of the Word of God. The kenosis, the self-emptying that takes place in the Incarnation of the Word, which will eventually lead to Calvary, mirrors the eternal self-emptying love at the heart of the Trinity.

Eckhart reminds us that Christ’s birth in Bethlehem is of no avail if he is not born in us today – so we can say ‘today Christ is born in me as my Saviour’. All He needs is a welcoming, open heart like Mary’s and an empty space which does not need to be perfect – just as the inn in Bethlehem was not the perfect place for the birth of the Son of God. To quote Gregory Nazianzen: “Christ takes each of us – takes me – whole and entire within Himself, with all my misery in order to destroy in Himself all trace of sin, like fire that dissolves in itself the wax,” thus transforming me into himself, bringing me into his own relationship with the Father in the bosom of the Trinity. Just as there is one God in three Persons, so in Christ, we are all members one of another; there is and we are called to become a single Man in a multitude of persons.

All this takes place in silence – as 15th century author puts it:
Thou shalt know Him when He comes –
Not by any din of drums; Nor the vantage of his airs; Nor by anything He wears
Neither by His crown; Nor His gown
For His presence known shall be by the holy harmony that His coming makes in thee

Yes His presence – His birth – within us creates harmony with our God, with ourselves, with our sisters and brothers and with the whole of creation. Is this not the angels’ message when they sang: “Glory to God in highest heaven and peace on earth to those who enjoy His favour”.