The Eighth Day of Christmas!

Isaiah 61:1-2

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.

The eight maids a-milking remind us of the eight beatitudes pronounced by Christ.  And the fact that the day falls on New Year's Day reminds us of the newness of life that beatitude offers us.  New Year's Day is a token of the coming age when not just the year but eternity will be offered us brand new and shiny.  And unlike this life, we will not then have to watch as the whole thing rusts before our eyes and falls apart in the normal daily stream of gloom and doom from the world.  When that Day comes, the beatitude described by Christ will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea and the things we have only glimpsed hitherto will be made permanent and universal.  What will it look like?  It will look like the Beatitudes Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount.  But where this world necessitates that the good person be patient in the face of cruelty, there will remain only the patient person, not the cruelty.  Good will show finally and completely that it is not dependent on evil to exist, as evil is dependent on good.  The captive will be liberated.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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