The Jesse Tree //Jesus is the Light of the Year

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John 1:1-14 I John 2:8

Can you feel it, the anticipation? Is your heart aching for the Savior to arrive this evening? 

I am always in awe of the mercy God grants us through his Church, and in turn the Church through the Liturgical Year. She begins each year in a state of hopeful anticipation and contemplation. She allows us four weeks to ponder the Savior’s coming. We have, each year, four weeks to clean out the corners of our hearts, sweep away the cobwebs of a stale spiritual life, and make room for the infant God. 

For four weeks we have waited on Christ. Four weeks to travel 5,000 years through salvation history, watching it unfold, anticipating the culmination of this one evening. My own heart is nearly exploding with longing for the incarnation of Christ. I am keenly aware of all the different ways I need him. 

It is not any wonder that traditional Jesse Trees use some symbol of light to crown the tree: a candle, a flame, a sun. When, after the long wait, and we think our heart can’t take any more, He comes quietly in the midst of a night, “a light to all people...the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into this world.” 

No doubt your day today is a busy one. There are pies to bake, dinner to prepare, and gifts to wrap. I know mine is. I’ll be mashing potatoes and ironing shirts and generally busying myself with the preparations for the holiday itself. 

Christmas Eve mass has not quite arrived, and yet the happiness of the day has spilled over into the bustle of all the things needing to be accomplished for the celebrations that ensue. Make sure to steal a few quiet moments, though, and ponder that great light that arrives tonight. 

Pause and take wonder of John’s words, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” Indeed, “the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.”

Reflect: In today’s bustle, save room for the Christ child. Wonder at the incarnation! 

Act: Take just a few moments in front of a creche, still empty of the baby Jesus, and say a quiet prayer.