Daily Reflection for Friday, December 24 2021
Peace and Blessings, Friends and Parishioners,
We encourage you to reflect on Friday's readings at this link:
If you prefer to use your own Bible, the readings are:
First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Responsorial: Psalm 89:2-5, 27 and 29
Gospel: Luke 1:67-79
Our reflection on Friday’s readings:
Decoding Christmas Trees, Decoding Christmas, and Recognizing Christ
Your Christmas tree is wrapped in a code that I would like to decode with you.
Once, I was listening to an episode of “The Bible in a Year” podcast by Fr. Mike Schmitz. In the Gospel of Luke, Fr. Mike looked at the story of the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) and he pointed out a connection between this scene and that infamous tree from Genesis 2-3 in the Garden of Eden. I had already been reminded of this connection by Dr. Scott Hahn in his book The Fourth Cup just a couple years prior to this (and, yes, I do recommend both of these resources). Fr. Mike developed this connection more specifically from the point of view of the Gospel of Luke. It starts with a married couple on that road to Emmaus, whom you might have missed completely if you’re like me.
That couple, however, is revealed in an important detail found in Luke 24:18 where ‘Cleopas’ is named. Many Bible scholars assume that the friend accompanying Cleopas was a man, but some say the companion was his wife, Mary. Mary, the wife of Clopas/Cleopas appears in John 19:25 as well as in Matthew 27:56, and Mark 15:40, without the mention of her husband’s name in the latter two cases.
In any case, this married couple is seen as the fulfillment of the first couple, Adam and Eve, who were banished and cursed by the tree of life. Correspondingly, the Christmas tree was often decorated with red and green apples or bulbs to symbolize that fruit which brought death. In Germany, the tree - frequently called the paradise tree - came about in the 8th century and this way of decorating it was popularized in the 17th to 18th centuries. Here is the upshot: they would also hang little white hosts or sugar cookies on the tree. What did those symbolize? The Eucharist, of course!
By the old fruit, the first couple was banished and cursed. By the new fruit, the new couple was brought into Communion and forever blessed, as they recognized Jesus “in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35). We, too, are brought into this Communion and forever blessed as often as we let our “eyes be opened” (Luke 24:31) by the Eucharist this Christmas onward.
With all the wrapping there can be at Christmas time, it’s worth your while to unwrap Christmas itself. So, here is more to unwrap if you’re interested
Wishing you a joyous and blessed Christmas!
Fr. Vinny Gillmore
Associate Pastor, St, Monica Church, Indianapolis