This week we Lectio the Liturgy with The Collect for Christmas Mass During the Day. The prayer is delightfully perfect for Christmas Day. There’s something special about this prayer. It’s so special, in fact, that a part of this Collect is prayed at every mass, but you may have never heard it. I’ve been to masses where you never hear the priest pray it but you might see his lips move. I have heard priests who frequently say it aloud. Either way, a portion of this Collect is prayed every day at every mass in every language around the world.
O God, who wonderfully created the dignity of human nature and still more wonderfully restored it, grant, we pray, that we may share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
There are two main parts in the mass: the first part is the Liturgy of the Word, which is mostly comprised of Scripture. The second part is the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which is the high point of the mass: the memorial of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection.
The first part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist is the time of preparation of the gifts to be offered. It is during this preparation, during the blessing of the water and wine when the priest prays, “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”
Water and wine, two very simple things, but used in this prayer have a rich meaning.
Water signifies humanity and wine is divinity.
At mass, when the priest pours a bit of water into the chalice of wine, the mingling of the water and wine symbolize the incarnation of Christ, the union of both his divine and human natures.
When I would think about the two natures of Jesus, it seemed easier to comprehend when I would think about Jesus being two in one. Perhaps something similar to the Trinity being three in one. However, the union of Jesus’ human and divine natures are like the water poured into the wine. They are now so permeated within each other that you can no longer separate them. It is not possible try to get that water back out of the wine.
So what does that have to do with us? We, also, are the water. Pope Julius wrote (Concil. Bracarens iii, Can. 1): "We see that the people are signified by the water, but Christ's blood [Christ’s divinity] by the wine. Therefore, when water is mixed with the wine in the chalice, the people is made one with Christ."
To be honest, that visualization, the water completely inseparably in the wine, brings a new depth to the incarnation of Jesus and his desire to be so intimately involved in our lives. It also presented an opportunity to reevaluate the level of my “in-ness”. How “all in” am I in my relationship with God? How easy is it to separate the water (me) from the wine (Him?)
This week as we Lectio the Liturgy, I hope you evaluate those thoughts with me. Jesus created the dignity of human nature and restored it when he humbled himself to share in our humanity. This Christmas, may we choose to more deeply share in his divinity.
Thank you for praying with me,