For the last couple of years Carol and I have been ushering in the new year at our local parish, with an event that, while it sounded crazy at first is starting to make a lot of sense. Adoration at 11 pm, followed by Mass at midnight … essentially a vigil celebration of the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.
Something about the timing itself is so attractive … thanking God as the previous year draws to a close, and participating in the most singular event this side of the veil – the Mass, a truly transcendent reality – to begin the new year.
As before the Mass was celebrated by Fr. Eugene Morris, a great priest in our home archdiocese of St. Louis. Fr. Morris holds down a number of posts, including lecturing on sacramental theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, running a house for those discerning vocation to the priesthood, guiding the permanent deacon formation program, and probably a bunch more … yet with that schedule, he spends a bit of time each year with us.
He Said Many Things
Fr. Morris has a real charism for preaching – he rolls one big idea after another right at you, bringing them together into nice, neat objects of beauty. Last night he was really on a roll, developing thoughts on …
… the Theotokos, in which we celebrate Mary as God-bearer …
… the mystery of the Incarnation, in which He who is, who was, and who is to come became our very own flesh and blood …
… leading us into the Paschal mystery, in which He transforms us and makes a new creation …
Are You Kidding Me?
I feel like a bug dancing between bowling balls … dozens of them, rolling right around me … by all rights I should be road kill …
but then Fr. Morris made a small point which just flattenned me.
While most of society was out celebrating the simple passage of time, we were completely blessed to be celebrating nothing less than the total transformation of time.
Time Keeps On Slippin … Into the Future
That really made sense to me. For years I’ve gotten all nostalgic about each New Year, as if the very passage of time itself was remarkable. What the heck – isn’t it just going to do that pretty much the same, whether we notice or not?
But then comes the very God who created time itself, for whom all moments of time and space are pretty much the same as we experience our own present moment (the eternal now, an idea well worth some contemplation), and he pokes a hole into the very nature of space and time.
The Best Part
Yes, Jesus entered our world as one of us, and chose a particular time and place to make that entrance. Yet instead of being confined by that entrance, in reality he brought eternity to each one of us, no matter where or when we are.
For the thief on the cross facing eternity, the early Christians martyred by an empire in it’s last throes, a lonely soldier pounding sand in the third millennium, and even for an easily-distracted geek who all too easily forgets what lasts, he reached out his hand and draws all towards him.
Sure, the implications for the space-time continuum are staggering … but even more important are the implications for our very lives.
Time to Act
So that transformation of time that began with a young girl who said yes to God, became visible to us in the Incarnation, became fully active in the events of Easter and Pentecost … that transformation is the best evidence of the central reality which knits the very flow of time into a cohesive whole.
How can you participate in this transformation, make it your own?
In the answer to this question lies the real meaning of Christmas!