Thursday, December 20, 2012
I have just started reading the Pope's new little book on the Infancy Narratives, he makes an interesting point about the the contrast in the annunciation of Jesus and John the Baptist. John's is public in the Temple at the heart of Jewish political, public and liturgical life at the hour of the evening sacrifice, it recalls the annunciations of Isaac, Samson and Samuel. Jesus' birth however is announced in the secret chamber of an obscure maiden in an obscure village, indeed we are left wondering whether the angel actually appears before her eyes or in the yet more secret chamber of Mary's heart.
John's birth is followed by "expectation" amongst the people and Jesus' by Mary "pondering" these things in her heart. I am sure this is all true but I think it says as much about the Pope's own theology as it does about the birth of the Lord.
It says something about the Popes attitude to Liturgy and prayer, and to the life of the Church. Is there perhaps even a contrast between the present Papacy and that of his predecessor here? John Paul II strode the world as a colossus, announcing salvation modelling himself on St John the Baptist and St Paul, whilst Benedict modelling himself on St Benedict seems to be, as far as the office of a modern Pontiff allows, a quiet, diffident contemplative. JPII created a sense of "expectancy amongst the people", whilst Benedict "ponders these things in [his] heart" and invites us to do the same.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake