Below is a reflection by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, entitled ‘A Shepherd’s Message.’ Published on December 27th, it is from Cardinal DiNardo’s blog:
|Sing lullaby! Lullaby baby, now reclining, sing lullaby! Hush, do not wake the infant King. Angels are watching, stars are shining over the place where he is lying: sing lullaby!
Sing lullaby! Lullaby baby, now a-sleeping, sing lullaby! Hush, do not wake the infant King. Soon will come sorrow with the morning, soon will come bitter grief and weeping: sing lullaby!
Sing lullaby! Lullaby baby, now a-dozing, sing lullaby! Hush, do not wake the infant King. Soon comes the cross, the nails, the piercing, then in the grave at last reposing: sing lullaby!
Sing lullaby! Lullaby! Is the babe awaking? Sing lullaby! Hush do not stir the infant King. Dreaming of Easter, gladsome morning. Conquering death, its bondage breaking: Sing lullaby!
This is a Carol with a melody and text from the Basque Region of Spain; it is very beautiful and has a ‘bittersweet’ flavor. The lilting and flowing lullaby for the infant King, the newborn Prince of Peace, is matched by scenes of future sorrow, Christ’s Passion and Death. The final verse ends on a triumphant Easter note.
The best Christmas Carols weave Christmas with Lent and Easter; this connection allows the scene of the Nativity not to be reduced to some form of sentimentality. The joy of Christmas is an anticipation of the final joy of our reconciliation with the Lord – a reconciliation that begins at Christmas, but is only complete when the name of ‘Jesus,’ the one who saves us from sin is brought to its full zenith on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The excellent music and texts of Christmas truly have to move and illuminate us; the darkness of the world could not overcome the Light that began to shine at the Nativity of Jesus Christ.
Each year finds its fair share of light and darkness. This one has been no exception. The violence and war in various parts of the Middle East, the very places where the Lord came to bring peace, have brought darkness and shadows to many people, even those living here in South Texas. The year in politics has been very acrid and even nasty in the wide number of personal attacks let loose by those running for office. It is one of the many shadows of this year. Refugees and immigrants have experienced great fears in many parts of the world and have felt darkness and isolation. This too is a shadow! However, when we gaze upon the might and power of God the illumination that comes to us is how courteous God has been in showing His might. He comes to our rescue and His heart is bent towards the love and salvation of all human beings. The Father hides His immensity in allowing His Son to become ‘small.’ The messages delivered to Mary, to Joseph, to the shepherds and to the magi all involve an initial call to ‘be not afraid.’ The Eternal Word has become ‘abbreviated’ in being sent to us as a child in the manger. What is simpler? In one instance, God’s love and power can be grasped in an understandable way – in the infant smile of the Word Made Flesh towards Mary, Joseph – and us!
Simplicity and goodness of heart, beauty and friendship are captivating; they capture us. Behind the great popularity of Pope Francis is his message of light, his willingness to encounter people in their darkness and vulnerability, and his deeds that echo God’s mercy shown to all. Simplicity of heart and respect for persons really is a job of illumination. Pope Francis invites us to it, because the Lord Jesus has already invited the Pope into such illumination and he is eager to share it. May we learn more courtesy in the coming year!
Along with Archbishop Fiorenza, Bishop Sheltz and Bishop Rizzotto, I wish you all a Most Blessed Christmas!
|By Daniel Cardinal DiNardo|
To the original post on Cardinal DiNardo’s blog: http://www.archgh.org/blog/main.asp?Tid=1889&cat=Cardinal%20DiNardo&id=39