A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The midnight hour

The first verse and a half of today’s first reading (Wisdom 18:14-16; 19:6-9) is frequently heard at Christmas time, especially at Midnight Mass:

When peaceful stillness compassed everything
and the night in its swift course was half spent,
Your all-powerful word, from heaven’s royal throne bounded...

The rest of the passage, however, diverges from the common depiction of Christmas: instead of a peaceful child, a loving mother, and pious shepherds, there is the wrath of God on a doomed land, followed by a flashback to the Red Sea.

In this context, what leaps from heaven at midnight is the angel of death visiting the last and most deadly plague upon Egypt.

And yet the passage also stands as a prophecy of the Messiah’s coming. Our Lord’s own words help reinforce this understanding.

Do not think that I have come
to bring peace upon the earth.
I have come to bring not peace
but the sword.
For I have come
to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one's enemies will be those of his household.
(Matthew 10:34-36)

We all have these midnight hours in our lives: a moments when God comes and sets before us a choice – life or death, God or oblivion, truth or lies, self-sacrifice or self-destruction.

May the Lord Jesus give us the grace to chose wisely and may he gather us with the blessed.