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Divine Office Reflections | Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord

When the sun rises in the morning sky, you will see the King of kings coming forth from the Father like a radiant bridegroom from the bridal chamber.

(Antiphon for the Canticle of Mary, Evening Prayer I)

The Bible has been described as a love story between God and His people. There is certainly no shortage of biblical texts that support this view. God was not only the Creator of the universe, but one who walked among His creatures “in the garden in the cool of the day.” Israel’s God was not only the Lawgiver, but the Lord who allured Israel to “bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” He was not only a Temple King, but the covenant God who promised His people, “I will betroth you to me forever.” And He would become not only a son of David, born to rule over the house of Jacob forever, but the incarnate Word who joined Himself to our flesh in order that He might make us Divine.

The incarnation of God in the womb of Mary was a marriage born of God’s enduring and constant love for us! Indeed, when Christ came forth from the womb on Christmas morn, he came forth like a radiant bridegroom from the bridal chamber where the union between God and man had been consummated for all eternity. God did spurn the virgin's womb. Rather, he took delight in virginity and reserved Mary’s womb as a tent for the spousal union between God and man.

Since Mary is the “exemplary realization of the Church” (as it states in the Catechism), what is true of Mary is true of the Church and all her members. Thus Christ is our Bridegroom, and in the incarnation He made our land his spouse and joined himself to us in a mystical marriage of love. He took on the form of a slave, assumed the weakness of our human condition, and was born into our poverty and lowliness, all in order to bring joy to all peoples with the promise of unending life with Him (Intercessions, Evening Prayer I).

But as with Mary, God asks for our consent and cooperation with His grace. At Christmas, we remember that God has come near. He is the Bridegroom of the soul. He allures us with His love. But we must give our consent… we must give our “yes.”

Today, on this Vigil of the Nativity the Lord, let us renew our “yes” to God and His all-consuming love. Let us offer to Him in total freedom the gift of our consent. And as we do so, let us marvel at the inexpressible goodness of God who has come from the Father to join Himself to us as the true Bridegroom of our souls.

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