Thoughts on Christmas Eve
The Presbytery Christmas Tree
Christmas Eve is a bit like Holy Saturday. It might seem rather empty but it is, in reality, a day of expectant waiting for the sacred event that we commemorate and make present again at Midnight Mass. Tonight the angels will sing the birth of God’s Son. This morning, in the Gospel of the final Mass of Advent, the last word is given to the father of St John the Baptist – Zechariah. In his Benedictus, which we repeat every day at Lauds, God is praised for the way He visits His people. Zechariah looks back to the past – to Abraham, David and the ‘prophets from ancient times.’ He looks to the present, to his child, John, ‘who shall be called the Prophet of the Most High’ and ‘will go before the Lord to prepare the way for him.’ He looks to the future – to the mystery of Christmas night, when God will bring the rising Sun to visit us, ‘to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow of death.’
The powerful image in Zechariah’s prayer points us to Christmas. The birth of Christ has long been celebrated near the point in the year when the sun grows stronger and the long winter nights begin slowly to shorten. This is why light is such an important feature of the Christmas Season –the lights of our Christmas trees and the decorations in the street. It is because Jesus, the Light of the World, the Sun of Justice, came to us in the middle of the night to shed away darkness and sin, and give us new life. That is the whole point of Christmas.
Let us spend Christmas Eve calmly, preparing ourselves spiritually as well as materially for the great Feast. Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay!