The Last Things in the Light of the Christmas Liturgies

Authored by Lorraine Buckley in Issue #33.4 of The Sower

Here Lorraine Buckley reflects on a theme that may be far from our minds at Christmas but is nevertheless a reality the Church brings forward for our contemplation in the liturgy of Christ’s birth.

It may seem odd to reflect on the last things at Christmas time, but this is what the Church’s liturgy invites us to do. The Post-Modern philosophy that pervades the current cultural climate in the West rejects all types of universal meta-narratives, fragmenting our world-view and outlook. The seasons of Advent and Christmas offer particular opportunities to help break out of this cultural trend. During Advent we have been preparing ourselves to celebrate the first coming of Christ in Bethlehem and renewing our desire for Christ’s second coming. Christmas is a time when Mother Church invites her children through the liturgy to step back from our day-to-day concerns to take a wider view: one which spans the whole history of salvation from the beginning of time to the eschaton. The Masses for the Nativity are a rich liturgical source for supplementing catechesis on death, judgment, heaven and hell.
The Gospel for Mass during the Day of the Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ[i] reminds us that “in the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God”[ii] and then recounts creation, the Incarnation, and the purpose of the Incarnation in bringing light to the world so that all could become children of God who would see His glory. This short little scripture passage encapsulates the whole history of creation and salvation.

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