Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent: God Comes to Us

Jesus is almost here!  We will commemorate His birth in a few days!

The first reading reminds us of the ancient prophecies telling of the coming of the Messiah, aka Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6). God says that Bethlehem-Ephrathah which was too small and insignificant to be part of the tribes of Judah would be the place where the ruler of Israel would come from. This statement tells us of Christ's humility and how God chooses the weakest and smallest to do great things, in this case, Bethlehem (1 Corinthians 1:27). Christ could have come as a billionaire or Roman emperor.  This would surely have made it easier to bring more people back to God. However, He chose a humble state, being born in a humble small town (Philippians 2:7-8).  We are told that His "origin is from old, from ancient times."  What does this mean?  Well, it means that Christ existed before space, time and matter (John 1:1). He is God. The second person of the Blessed Trinity. He would come as a human, being born of a Virgin. This Virgin is of course the Blessed Mother Mary who was chosen before she even was conceived. This is why she is the Immaculate Conception. She was prepared beforehand to bear the Son of God. Once born, he would be the firm shepherd of the flock. Ancient peoples, including the Israelites relied on their imagination and signs in order to 'see' God, so to speak. The Israelites used imagery such as clouds, whispers, pillars of fire to describe God. Meanwhile, the Pagans used statues or idols to describe what they thought God was.  We Catholics have it easy.  We have Jesus, God in the flesh to look upon.  Now we must ask the Lord to turn us to Him, to seek His face as the Psalm of today tells us.

As stated, we have Jesus, God in the flesh. He is the Lord who existed before all things we know to exist, existed. Upon the cherubim and the high orders of the angelic choirs does His thrown or power rest.  He is above us but walked among us, caring for His "vine" (Leviticus 26:12). We must turn and look to Him; seek His face (Psalm 27:8). Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament throughout the world. We can see His face prepare to be saved if we do His will. This Sacrament reminds us of the sacrifice on the Cross which replaced those sin offerings offered on altars as the second reading tells us.

No longer are sin offerings needed.  God took no delight in them.  Jesus came to do the Father's will which was to redeem the world and open the doors to salvation in Jesus' person (John 6:38, Acts 4:12). The body of Jesus Christ; His soul, divinity and blood were offered for all of us. This sacrifice was done once and for all (Romans 6:10).  Its efficacy does not wear out. As Christmas approaches, we must remember the importance of Christ coming in the flesh.

In the Gospel, we read of Mary going out to the town of Judah. She visited her cousin Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist during this time. As Mary greeted her, John leaped for joy in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She stated the words found in the "Hail Mary" prayer, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." Many Protestants clearly have an issue with Catholics praying to Mary; however, I have always found this odd since the words "Blessed are you among woman etc" came from the Holy Spirit!  It was the Holy Spirit who brought Elizabeth to pronounce those words to Mary. As Christmas approaches, we too much leap for joy and say, "how does this happen to me" as we recall how Mary and Jesus come to us.  We must ask ourselves why God would do this. Why would God become a human being born of Virgin for each one of us?  The answer is LOVE. God is LOVE (1 John 4:8). This love is perfect and calls out to us in mercy.  In this year of Mercy, let us meditate on God's love for us that He would become a human for us; suffer and die for each one of us so that we can be redeemed and saved. God's Divine Mercy has no bounds. Let us await the birth of Christ and ask Christ to be born in our hearts.  Let us be open to Christ just like Our Blessed Lady Mary was.  Come Lord come!


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