Winter solstice is here!

I was scraping ice off the car in darkness this morning just a few hours ago and I’m writing this at about 4 p.m.  and it is already dark again. It was a short day but a glorious one: cold and with snow on the ground and clear blue sky above. And it is the shortest day of the year! Truth is, we, in Britain, cannot really complain about the cold (it is never really cold enough) but winter days here are often damp, dark and miserable. This has been a beautiful one not only because of the sunshine but also because from tomorrow on it will be light for a little longer each day.

O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.

Advent Antiphon (see Malachi 4.2 and Luke 1.79).

Divine initiative and human response

Today’s Bible readings are: Psalm 121; Malachi 1.1, 6–end; Luke 1.39–45.

The Visitation (Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth) from Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (the very rich hours of the duke of Berry), a renowned book of hours.

The theme of divine – human interaction is never far from the birth accounts of Luke’s Gospel. The accounts speak of the working of God in the world and of the unfolding of God’s plan of salvation. Yet this ‘plan’ seems more open-ended than we might have imagined and always involves human beings who may, it seems, respond positively or negatively toward God. They may further God’s purpose or, in some sense, (wittingly or unwittingly) stand against it. Yet God has the last word and even the resistance of humanity is somehow ultimately overcome.

Zechariah does not believe the word of the angel and needs a sign; Mary, on the other hand (though still questioning) believes the angel and responds: ‘Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ Elizabeth lauds Mary for her faith. Yet God does not give up on Zechariah.

Through their faith and in spite of their lack of faith, God is at work among human beings wooing them, inspiring them and equipping them to will and to do what is right.

I think both Psalm 121 and Malachi 1 have there own contribution to make in this area but I will leave you to reflect on that and perhaps to leave a comment.

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