Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fr. Chuck's Column, Sunday, March 25

Only nine more months till Christmas! Oh my, better start planning now!

Normally we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord on this day, but because this year March 25 falls on the 5th Sunday of Lent, the Annunciation is pushed back a day. Jesus will just be a bit early this coming Christmas. This Feast is described in St. Luke’s Gospel, 1:26-38. There are also other annunciations in the Bible, to Joseph for example (MT 1:18-25), and to Zechariah of the birth of John the Baptist (LK 1:5-23), and in the Old Testament the birth of Samson (see Judges 13:2-5).

Since we are looking forward to Christmas it seems a good time to look at the next two windows in our church, which deal with the Nativity of the Lord. These windows are located above the 5th and 6th Stations of the Cross (a little Lenten allusion there!). On the left hand window as you face it we see the word PAX, behind it a yellow cross, and an olive branch. Pax is Latin for “Peace,” and Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The yellow cross is similar to the yellow cross in the first window, closest to the altar, on the theme of Baptism. These crosses suggest to me anointing. Jesus is the “Anointed One,” or in Greek, “Cristos,” or in English, the “Christ.” Jesus refers to His being anointed when in Nazareth. He reads from the prophet Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:16-19)

Anointing is a sign of election, or being chosen. Kings (like Saul or David), prophets (like Samuel) and priests (like Aaron) in the Old Testament were anointed. Kings today are still anointed when they ascend their throne. And we anoint in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination and Anointing of the Sick. We anoint by making the sign of the cross with olive oil on the person’s forehead, hence the yellow cross.

The olive branch is an ancient, Biblical symbol of peace. Even today in our speech, to ‘offer an olive branch’ signifies making at effort to end conflict and bring peace. So all these symbols speak together of Jesus as the Prince of Peace.

In the next window we see the Christmas star shining down on the manger – which was the feed box for the animals. We also see a bit of Jesus’ halo and the tip of His head – but most of Jesus is hidden in the manger. I rather like that representation, as Jesus’ coming to us was mostly hidden. Other than Mary and Joseph, a few shepherds and later a few Magi, most did not know about the most important event in all of human, indeed in all of cosmic, history that was occurring in their midst. It went by unnoticed by most people of the time, so it is wholly appropriate that the Christ Child is hidden in the manger.

This set of windows was given “In Memory of Edbert Julian Schutze by Mrs. C.A. Schutze, Sr.” We are grateful for their generosity.  
God bless, 

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