Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fourth Sunday of Advent

The readings this Sunday lead our attention towards the mystery of the Messiah, born of the House of David (in the first reading) according to Scripture and as their fulfillment (the second reading,) all of this in the womb of Mary, the great Believer (the Gospel).

The Lord is near, but we need to know where to look for Him in order to find Him. The message today is look for Him close to Bethlehem, look for Him though Mary... then He will be “born” in your life.

History as a “Delivery”: The words of the prophet Micah today announce great things to the tiny village of Bethlehem: "From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel". But this won’t happen right away, there is a time that needs to be endured first. This time is described in two familiar metaphors: abandonment and childbearing.
In Micah’s day, Israel felt that it was abandoned by God, so much so that for them it was a plain fact. The prophet takes that difficult feeling and then turns it to hope: there is a child that is going to be born who will be a blessing for everyone. The “delivery” is not only a private one, of woman’s child, and she from her labor pains, but a delivery for the whole people of Israel from their anguish, and to them a Messiah. And, this delivery of Israel is for us a supernatural delivery, performed by the Messiah who will deliver all mankind from sin. Salvation history can be likened to a pregnancy. A difficult time, that culminates in anguish, but ends in joy.

Chronologically, we live after this “delivery,” but we are doing something similar, waiting through this life to be born into Heaven.

Christ comes to the earth: The second reading offers us two lessons.

First, the author of the letter to the Hebrews invites us to meditate about the spirituality of the incarnation, by which God gives us an example of prompt obedience (“I come to do your will”), absolute generosity with the Father, and an interior sacrificial spirit.

Second, although not a written part of history, we can imagine Christ expressing in human language His desire to enter into our world before His Incarnation, and we can understand these “quotations” not as mere biography but as describing the great act of mercy which God wanted to perform, and the profound vocation Jesus had as Messiah. And all of us are called to imitate Jesus, each responding to the particular calling God has for us from all eternity.

This perspective should motivate us to examine ourselves in the light of Lord and to try to discover the deeper meaning of our lives, in order to open ourselves to the power of the word of God and find
strength, light and a clear route.

Jesus comes and with Him comes happiness: The Gospel brings us even closer to the coming of Jesus into the world. Soon people will be able to actually touch this baby, our God. What always amazes me is that person who is “touched” by this baby without ever actually touching him: John the Baptist, who leaps for joy at the closeness of the Messiah. What a joyful encounter between these two unborn babies!

The figure of John the Baptist has accompanied us all through this Advent. He has preached to us conversion. His sharp words are designed to make sure that the field is ready for the great sowing, Jesus’ sowing of the word of God in the world. Yet the excitement began even before John could speak a word, while he was in the womb of Elizabeth his mother. With his little “dance”, John is teaching us what our attitude needs to be before the Messiah. Beyond all our human conceptions and knowledge and hopes and expectations, Christ is the Good News and we must receive Him with gratitude, joyful leaps and a heartfelt explosion of worship.

I want to conclude by quoting the words the Holy Spirit put in Elizabeth's mouth: "Blessed are you who believed." This is the human title for Mary our Mother; because her heavenly title is Kejaritomene, the one "full of grace". Let us thank God for the faith of the Virgin Mary, and with that faith let us rejoice and dance for the coming of our Lord Jesus in the flesh.

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