Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
December 21, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as the anticipation of Christmas builds to a crescendo, we have the tender and sublime images of the Song of Songs.
Hark! my lover–here he comesSong of Songs 2:8-9
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
This book of the Bible is unique in that “it shows no interest in Law or Covenant or the God of Israel, nor does it teach or explore wisdom like Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. Jewish tradition reads it as an allegory of the relationship between God and Israel; Christianity, as an allegory of Christ and his bride, the Church.” (Wikipedia)
Like all enduring poetry, the Song of Songs invites us to match its images with our own understanding of God. Of course, God is more than any image we can humanly create, but our relationship with God has the characteristics of a human relationship because WE are human.
As we read this passage, we might pray with thoughts like these:
- God loves me – and all Creation – passionately.
- God wants and waits for me to notice the loving Divine Presence in my life
- God’s love is energetic and attentive. God is at the center and edge of all my existence.
Added to all that, God wants us to live in the world as people who already see the Spring of Eternal Life. Living with that kind of faith and hope allows us not only to find God, but to reflect God’s Presence to all around us.
For see, the winter is past,Songs of Songs 8: 11-13
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
On this day of Winter Solstice, when – depending on our hemisphere – we are ultimately close or far from our Sunstar, this particular passage is so comforting. In our everyday life we will still experience a rollercoaster of seasons – sadness and joy and everything in between. But beyond all the seasons, the Verdant Eastertide has already redeemed our lives. With deep faith and hope, we can always live with the Spring’s abundance.
The Visitation by Raphael
In our Gospel, we are given a beautiful picture of Mary and Elizabeth, with in-vitro Jesus and John – dancing in the graces of this holy Springtime. Join them as we sing of O Antiphon for today:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Poetry: May is Mary’s Month – Gerard Manley Hopkins
May is Mary’s month, and I Muse at that and wonder why: Her feasts follow reason, Dated due to season— Candlemas, Lady Day; But the Lady Month, May, Why fasten that upon her, With a feasting in her honour? Is it only its being brighter Than the most are must delight her? Is it opportunest And flowers finds soonest? Ask of her, the mighty mother: Her reply puts this other Question: What is Spring?— Growth in every thing— Flesh and fleece, fur and feather, Grass and greenworld all together; Star-eyed strawberry-breasted Throstle above her nested Cluster of bugle* blue eggs thin Forms and warms the life within; And bird and blossom swell In sod or sheath or shell. All things rising, all things sizing Mary sees, sympathising With that world of good, Nature’s motherhood. Their magnifying of each its kind With delight calls to mind How she did in her stored Magnify the Lord. Well but there was more than this: Spring’s universal bliss Much, had much to say To offering Mary May. When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple Bloom lights the orchard-apple And thicket and thorp† are merry With silver-surfèd cherry And azuring-over greybell makes Wood banks and brakes‡ wash wet like lakes And magic cuckoocall Caps, clears, and clinches all— This ecstasy all through mothering earth Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth To remember and exultation In God who was her salvation.
Music: Spring – Antonio Vivaldi