Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

Thursday of the Third Week of AdventLectionary: 197


"O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely."


Artists have often used the technique called chiaroscuro to depict the Christmas stories. The word is Italian, combining chiaro, meaning light as in clarity, clear and Clare; and scuro, meaning darkness and obscurity. The effect is of brilliant light shining in deep darkness. The shepherds arrive in dark night at a brilliantly lit barn. The magi find a gleaming child in the darkness; their faces turned toward him are lit while dark shadows fall behind them.
Oddly, the Church places several dark stories like the martyrdom of Steven, the Holy Innocents and Saint Thomas Becket after Christmas. The whole season before and after Christmas is chiaroscuro. Today, the 21st of December, the Winter Solstice, is one of those brilliant days.
Today's first reading is lit by the imagination of young lovers who cannot suppose their married life might ever face darkness or difficulty. They have found perfect happiness in each other. As one fellow said, "Being in love is the happiest ten minutes of your life."
The happiness of those moments is so sweet, it is almost unendurable, pursued as it is by a relentless anxiety. "What if this doesn't last? What if I am mistaken? What if my lover betrays me? What if I am not worthy?"
But, despite our misgivings and crushing disappointments, we keep returning to our songs of love,

"O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely."

Christmas reminds us to be silent, to hush the voice and the mind and let the Infant sleep undisturbed in our arms. Christmas reminds us that our happiness is not so terribly important after all. What is important is this Baby who must sleep, suckle, and be protected; who must be spirited into Egypt in the middle of the night. We ask only that, when you awake, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and you are lovely.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.