Saturday, December 30, 2017

The silence of the Octave of Christmas

As the shepherds made known the message that had been told them about the child, "Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart."

As things have slowed down in church, I thought that Christmas had turned quieter elsewhere. I was mistaken. People have not yet finished their shopping. Mall have devised a scheme to keep customers coming back - they declared holiday sales. Not satisfied with commercialism encroaching into Advent, it now invades the Christmas Octave. Many take advantage of the holiday spirit and prefer to spend the octave in leisure. People are everywhere...except in Church. 

This makes me wonder: How many of our faithful have taken time to sit in silence before the Manger of the Lord? I suppose that with all the activities that vie for our attention during the holidays, so very few can honestly say that they have spent time in silent prayer before the Lord's manger. 

Our Lady wrapped her new-born Son in swaddling clothes and laid him on a manger...and then, she silently reflecting on this great mystery that unfolded before her very eyes. She teaches us the proper attitude that we must take before this great mystery of the Incarnation. It is the attitude of prayerful silence.

I chanced upon a Mister Bean Christmas episode. It showed Mr. Bean playing with the figures of a Belen. The cow "moooed" and St. Joseph told it: "Shhhh." The donkey "neighed" and Our Lady said to it: "Shhhh." One of the magi coughed and his companions told him: "Shhhh." It is funny and it may seem irreverent for the standards of the pious and the devout. But from this funny episode, I realized that for one to stand before the manger, he must heed the warning: "Shhhh! Be quiet!" Be still, my soul, because you stand in the presence of God.

I suppose that the carol "Silent Night" did not only refer to the silence of the night when the Savior was born. It also referred to the silence of the mouth that is needed so that the heart may recognize the Savior who quietly came down from heaven.  Silence is needed so that we may enter into the depth of the mystery of the Lord's kenosis.

The Octave provides for us this opportunity for silence. The crowds prefer to stay away from Church and spend their time in places of leisure. And we have the Baby Jesus all for ourselves. Together with Our Lady and St. Joseph, we kneel in silence before the new-born Son of God. We kneel in the silence of a cave. 

And we take advantage of the silence of the octave. We should savor this silence before the guests (magi) come on Epiphany. When he is revealed on the Jordan River and in the marriage feast of Cana, it will noisy from then on. People will want to take hold of him: "Everybody is looking for you." The public ministry which epiphany will usher in will definitely be busy.

This is the reason why we have to keep the silence of the Lord's nativity while the octave gives us the opportunity to do so. When Epiphany comes, it will be busy for us once again.  Thus, while Epiphany is not yet here, let us go to Bethlehem and see this new-born king. let us be like Mary who kept all these things and reflect on them in her heart!

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