From Stations of the Nativity: Meditations on the Incarnation of Christ
Before the Stations
Almighty God, whose blessed Son took our human nature so that we might regain our lost innocence and be restored to the divine image that was disfigured by sin, grant that as we meditate on the mystery of his humanity we may share the glory of his divinity, who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever.
A hymn may be sung: the familiar Christmas hymns tell of the wonder of the Incarnation and the following is particularly suitable (click on hymn title to be directed to the YouTube video of its performance):
V: We adore thee O Christ and we bless thee.
R: Because by thy wonderful Nativity thou hast given us new birth.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we have observed his star at its rising, and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judaea.” Then he sent them to Bethlehem saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary, his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2: part of verses 1-12)
The “wise men” have been subject to more legendary additions than any other part of the Nativity story. They have been given names and described as kings, but the Greek word in the gospel is magi, which was widely used of those who practiced magic and divination. These men may have come from anywhere in the Middle East region: the point of the story is that they were the first Gentiles to visit and worship the Christ Child, offering him gifts which relate to his kingship, priesthood, and sacrificial death.
We give thanks that the Incarnation was for all people; that God makes a new covenant with any who will come to him in faith. We ask for grace to offer our gifts of love and obedience. They are all that we can give him, but he graciously accepts them if they are offered in the name of Jesus. May we be watchful for his many ways of guiding us, and joyful to follow them.
Although we have learned and experienced so much of the steadfast love of God, we are still hesitant in following where he leads, as the Magi followed his guiding star. We do not make ourselves open to his calling, and we are grudging in our response. Help us to seek diligently after his will and to make our lives richer in worship.
V: God sent his Son into the world.
R: To bring us to eternal life.
V: Let us bless the Lord.
R: Thanks be to God.
Gold for a king, for the King of the Jews, and King of all the Earth, for he made it: stoop under the low lintel of humility, to fall before him throned in a cradle.
Incense for a priest, for the High Priest of the Covenant, rising over the sacrifices that unite divine and human: these rough walls contain the Holy of Holies, where all may enter into a greater Covenant..
Myrrh for the dead, for those whose life returns to the Giver, yielding the breath that was granted for a span of years: learn from this Child that the cradle leads to the tomb, but the anointed body is not the end of the story.
Mary and Joseph wonder at the strange visitors who are brought to their knees before their loved fragility; not yet knowing of the royal title to be nailed over the priestly sacrifice, silent in death.
Star of Bethlehem, guide me onward
to the banquet of the King
to the pardoning by the Priest
to the life beyond death.
After the Stations
Almighty God, grant to us, who have followed our Lord through the time of his coming to Earth, the peace promised by the angels, the simple trust of the shepherds, the wise discernment of the Magi, and the love of the Holy Family in our homes and in all our lives, through Jesus Christ, our Savior,
A hymn may be sung: see above.
A priest who is present may give this blessing, or the people may say it together, saying, us, for, you.
May God give you grace to follow the example of Christ, and bring you through the power of his Incarnation to eternal life, and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.