The 3rd Friday of Advent
(1 Samuel 1:24-28, Luke 1: 46-56)
“O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart,
the cornerstone that makes all one
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.”
Today the church chants the sixth of the “O” antiphons, calling Christ the “King of the Nations” and “Cornerstone” of all creation. It blows my mind to imagine the King of the nations who holds all creation together coming down from his cherubic throne to shape each of us out of the clay of the earth. God got his hands dirty making each one of us. Not only that, but He, who had wrapped himself in light as in a robe, also concealed his majesty in a vessel of clay. He became our companion as we journeyed along the path of life. Consider these lines taken from the Lord of the Rings.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king (Tolkien).
The celebrations of Christmas remind us that God does not dwell in a house made by human hands (CF. Acts 7: 48) but in a vessel of clay shaped by his own hands. Through the mystery of the incarnation, Jesus applied the words of the prophet Isaiah to himself. “You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay; you are the potter; we are the work of your hand” (Is. 64:8). After he became a vessel of clay, he proceeded to empty himself so that we might be filled. Mary, God’s special vessel of election, rejoiced in her lowliness and continues to proclaim God’s greatness for all eternity.
The Only-begotten Son of God became the son of Mary so that we might seek him in wonder and love him. When God made us, he made us social creatures who relate to him through our relationships with one another. The infant in the manger captures our attention. The helplessness of almighty God excites our compassion. As we bow down to take him into our arms, we find our hearts expanded so that they can love and embrace all that he loves and embraces. The love of God made tangible in Christ, extends to the whole earth, despairing of no one and assuring us that all are the objects of his love.
O King within the child within the clay,
O hidden King who shapes us in the play
Of all creation. Shape us for the day
Your coming Kingdom comes into its own.