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CHRIST THE LIGHT OF ALL NATIONS

At Lauds of the Epiphany the antiphon for the Benedictus is a shining example of how liturgical texts can disclose the fuller meaning of the gospels, meanings and connexions which are easily missed when we make the mistake of reading the Bible in an excessively literalist way, as if it were a Wikipedia article.

“Today the Church is joined to the heavenly Spouse, for in the Jordan Christ washed away her offences: the Magi hasten with gifts to the royal nuptials, and the guests are gladdened by the water become wine, alleluia.” 

In the incarnation of the eternal Son, the Godhead wedded our human nature. Christ is the divine spouse of the human race. The Magi seeking truth and wisdom find it when they adore the celestial Bridegroom, the Infant God at Bethlehem.

The wedding feast at Cana is so easily misinterpreted, by missing the point. How many weak and watery fundamentalist homilies have  expounded the Lord’s thoughtfulness as regards the catering arrangements at Cana. That is not the point. The point is that at Cana Christ is the true Bridegroom. By His presence and His grace He replaces the water, the provisions of the former covenant, with His new Messianic banquet, His new and everlasting covenant. Cana is to be read in correlation with the Last Supper. The same Person is the Bridegroom at both banquets.

The Magi did not study a text (unless it were their reading of the stars), they worshipped a Person. In adoring, they found the Truth. The Truth led them to worship. The Truth changed them. They returned to their own country, their previous way of life, by another way. They returned home with new wisdom and new faith.

The newness and distinctiveness of Christian Truth is irreducible, though many try to accommodate it to other lesser truths. We do so at our peril. Loudly denouncing violence and cruelty while remaining silent about the religious errors that so often motivate such sins, is a gross disservice to humanity, and a gross disloyalty to our Maker and Spouse.

The marriage covenant between the Almighty and His People is a dual responsibility. God remains faithful to His marriage vows. Do  we? Clearly not always. Some centuries are more faithful than others. Look at the disastrous twentieth century. We should burn with shame if for the sake of political correctness and religious cowardice we ever pretend (or allow the impression to be given) that religion without Christ is true religion in the truest sense, or that faith without Jesus is real faith in the truest sense.

The previous and pagan beliefs of the Magi were a preparation for their conversion, not a substitute for it. They adored the Infant God even though their understanding of Him was incomplete. Christ Jesus Himself, Son of God and Messiah, evangelized them before they had been catechized.

The New Evangelization will get nowhere until we stop pretending.

And until we stop pretending, confusion will increase, and the ‘Lord of Misrule’ will continue his wrecking.