The Dawning of Our Compassionate God
On this day before Christmas the liturgy brings a beautiful text to our prayerful attention. “The compassionate mercy of our God has dawned and visited us to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Lk 1:78 This complex, poetic and beautiful text is hard to translate, but very clear in its meaning.
At Christmas a new day of God’s passionate mercy lights up the world!
In the original inspired Greek text the word for compassion, splagchnon, is much stronger than its English counterpart. Splagchnon is full of deep emotion and comes from the innermost feelings of our anatomy. The word means visceral or intestinal. For the ancients it was a way of expressing what is deepest in our being. God with the deepest mercy like the sun is dawning on us at the birth of Christ! This message is right from God’s heart. He is head over heels in love with us humans. “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him.” Misericordiae Vultus Pope Francis
Christ is often compared to the sun’s rays. “And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a Light dawned.” Mt 4:13 Thanks to modern physics we know a lot more about the light of the sun. It is generally strongly agreed that light is not just a ray but also a stream of tinny energized particles called a quanta. When we sit in the sun we are enveloped in billions of quanta coming from the core of the sun’s nuclear reactor which fuses at 27 million degrees.
Christ is the “light of the world”. It is fitting we use so many lights at Christmas. His coming at Christmas blankets the world in the life giving quanta of Christ. This comes to us from the depths of the Father’s heart. The Christ child is the most beautiful and precious gift that can come to us in this blessed season. We must never leave it unwrapped under the tree of the cross!
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.