Reflection During The 4th Sunday In Advent

Christmas is on the doorstep – five more days – the big day! Have you made the final preparations for our Savior? 

The stores have been preparing for more than two months – but not necessarily for the Christian meaning of Christmas. For us, today is the last Sunday of Advent.  Are you prepared spiritually to celebrate the birth of Christ? 

The Church helps us do this by presenting for our meditation the figures of David and Mary and what a contrasting picture they present.  Both had set plans for their lives until our Heavenly Father had a surprise for each of them. 

David – singer, poet, harpist, King of Israel. He secured his kingdom, built his palace. What could he do now? Build! But what to build? Something permanent that would show off his achievements.  He would build a palace for our Heavenly Father, a magnificent temple. But, notice he came to this decision only after he made himself comfortable in his own luxurious palace. 

Our Heavenly Father, however, gave David his comeuppance. Our Heavenly Father saw right through David’s pride and reminded him that all his success as king was due to our Heavenly Father’s protection and grace. David had to be brought down a peg or two. He was thinking only of himself and was, in effect, trying to make our Heavenly Father grateful to him. David forgot all that our Heavenly Father had done for him. 

Now, let’s look at Mary – no illusions about her importance. No brash confidence in approaching God. David had plans but they were not our God’s plans. 

Mary had no grandiose plans, but God had plans for her – if she would agree and say “yes!” It would be the power of God Himself that would enable Mary to allow God to achieve His plans, His purposes. Her “yes” is a stark contrast to David’s proud self-confidence. 

And it is through Mary that God built Himself a house, a dwelling place among His people, not one made of wood or stone, but in a womb of flesh and blood, in a heart filled with grace and love. 

Yes, David’s kingdom will endure, but faith will be accomplished by Mary’s Son.  What do we learn from all this? We all have plans and projects for ourselves, but it is our hearts and minds that our Heavenly Father wants, not our projects and plans. 

Our Heavenly Father’s plans for us will oftentimes be in conflict with our personal plans. The one plan that our Heavenly Father has for us is that His Son, Jesus, be born again in and through us. It is only when we seek our Heavenly Father’s will and not our own that this can happen. Then, and only then, can His Love become real and enfleshed in our world today. 

Each of us must do an Advent meditation using Mary as our example. Jesus took flesh in Mary’s womb for nine months and afterward came to maturity under her guidance. 

This same Jesus wants to come to maturity within each of us. That process will probably not happen in nine months.  It might take nine years or 90 years. 

But, however long it takes for Christ to reach maturity in us, He will come forth and we will see His face. 

Mary’s journey led to Bethlehem to a stable, to a baby’s cry and to the great beginning we will celebrate in a few days. 

This all hinged on one young girl long ago, who, when confronted with a life-changing course, simply said “yes.” 

If more of us would do the same, maybe, just maybe, the sound of the dove will be heard in our troubled world. 

As the days of Advent dwindle down to a precious few, the anticipation increases and the patience to wait decreases. Still, we need to ask what we are longing for with such eagerness. 

The true power of this season is its ability to speak to the weary heart in each of us and to the bruised world which our Heavenly Father so loves. This season is about the coming and making visible of our Heavenly Father ‘s peace. However, if we are honest, we must face a very difficult question. Doesn’t the peace of our Heavenly Father seem to last as long as the fizz in an uncapped soda bottle? Wars and violence still go on.  Coronavirus is still prevalent in our country. We continue to feel hatred and resentment toward some who are near and some with whom we work and live. 

The peace of Our Lord seems to be neither permanent nor enduring. Why? The effects of sin continue. People will die today and in the future from war, hatred, illness and neglect. Angry and bitter words will be exchanged. Again, why? The answer lies, perhaps, in the way we receive the gift of our Heavenly Father ‘s peace – like David, as a debt to be repaid or like Mary, in humble simplicity and openness. 

There is one true and lasting peace – our Heavenly Father ‘s strength working through our human weakness. A Child will lead us. 

I received a letter from a 7-year-old girl named Mollie. She wrote, “I would like to give you this money [$55.00] so you can buy food or presents for people that are most needy. God bless you.” 

This child was saving her money for a trip to Disneyworld. When she decided to give the money to the Church, her father asked her if it would be better to give only half of the amount and keep the other half for herself? She said, “No. I would rather give it to people who need it more than I do.” 

In Corde Christi, 

Fr. Tom

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