Last Sleep of Christmas

Last Sleep of Christmas January 5, 2016

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night: Wisdom!
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: Wisdom!

If music be the food of love . . . play on.

So Shakespeare, the greatest of English writers, told us in his play Twelfth Night.Music is the food of love . .. and we should play on even as the light of Epiphany, the next great feast of the Church, the celebration of revelation, is tomorrow.

In the “normal time” that is coming, we can look back fondly on the harmony music brings to our lives.

Twelfth Night has a fool who thinks he is wise: Malvolio. He hates jollification, because he is too great in his own mind to become like a little child. It is fit at Christmas, as Dickens reminds us, to become as a little child since God saw fit to do so.

This is a good year to avoid those who think they were born great, have achieved greatness, or that fate is thrusting greatness on them. Such men are always knaves and sometimes tyrants.

Epiphany is also the feast where we remember the Baptism of Jesus. God the Father recognized His Son by a voice from Heaven while God the Holy Spirit came down on the Son. At that moment all three persons of the Godhead manifested themselves in a way we can . . . almost . . . comprehend.

The romance of Twelfth Night depends on hidden identity. Love recognizes the true nature of the beloved while the intellect is blinded by clever lies. Resolution and jollification can only happen when the mind realizes what the heart has always known! Mary knew Jesus’ nature, as did the wise men. The Apostles, however, were as blind as the characters of Twelfth Night. They love Jesus as if He was the Son of God, but could not imagine He was the Son of God. Finally, Jesus was revealed as the Father, the Spirit, and even John the Baptist told everyone who Jesus was.

I am sure that, like the characters of Twelfth Night once Jesus was revealed . . . they knew.

Tonight we bow before the Christ Child one last time in this Christmas seasons as the wise men did so long ago. Jesus is revealed as King, thought the shadow of coming Lent and the Cross are seen in the mystic gifts that the wise men bring: perfumes to anoint his body. “Oh! Of course!” The human and divine natures of Christ were revealed. He was baptized and got wet in the water like a man, but was recognized by Heaven as the Son of God.

Most great truths are like this. We sort-of-know, but then life or education shows us the truth and then we know. “Of course!” We see. We get “it.” Epiphany for us tomorrow is the revelation of what we experienced during this Christmas season: this is what that was.

Jesus was born and we celebrate at Christmas time, now ending. Next we recall that Jesus was revealed to the wise in the coming of the Magi and revealed by God to be God at His baptism. Jesus was born! We glorify Him! Jesus is God! We worship Him! Play on! This is the last sleep of Christmas, but tomorrow is Epiphany!


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