Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 22
The Spirit of Christmas Teaches Us That God Is Truly With Us, Guiding Us in Our Life of Faith And Our Intimacy with Him.
In today’s Gospel, we hear from Matthew an echo of a prophecy given to Isaiah some seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us’” – a prophecy which spoke of a King in fulfillment of the promise God once gave to David, a prophecy which spoke of a Messiah who would come to save God’s people.
“God is with us.”
Today, faithful Christians live their lives of faith believing that God the Father sent His Only-Begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit in a Virgin’s womb, to become one like us in every way, except sin.
We have come to believe that this Jesus of Nazareth, born in a stable in Bethlehem so long ago, is the God-Man who walked amongst us, sat and ate with us, shared in our joys and our sorrows – all the while teaching us about the Divine Nature of God Himself – a compassionate God, one of indescribable Love and limitless Mercy.
But if we could place ourselves back in time in the days of ancient Israel some two thousand years ago and more, we would realize that this idea of God taking upon Himself our flesh and walking amongst us was a concept which was difficult for many of God’s chosen people to understand, much less accept.
It even took an Archangel from Heaven to convince the just and holy Joseph, as Scripture tells us “a righteous man”, that the Baby conceived in Mary’s womb was not the result of human making, but of Divine intervention.
“God is with us.”
In the fullness of time, in the wisdom known only to the mind of God, during a time among the Jewish people who had known persecution and slavery for more than nineteen hundred years at different times throughout their history since the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, there were prophecies that an “anointed one” would come to save God’s children from oppression.
But it was not the oppression from man that God’s children would be saved. It was due to the oppression from Original Sin and man’s slavery to the consequences of sin that the “anointed one”, the Christ, would be conceived and born. It was for this purpose that God sent His Son into the world, in the fullness of time, to save His children and to reconcile them to Himself.
And God is still with us today! In the hearts and minds of men and women of every faith persuasion, of every race, color, creed and nationality throughout the world, God’s Spirit continues to dwell within us, guiding us to live our lives as God intended.
Each and every one of us, regardless of our vocation in life, is called to discipleship. We are each called by God to live a just and holy life, a righteous life in imitation of Joseph; we are each called to live a humble and virtuous life in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; but, most importantly, we are each called to live a life of selfless love, compassion and mercy in imitation of Jesus Christ Himself.
For as we read today in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, “Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles, among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; to all the beloved of God…called to be holy.”
And God is truly within each one of us as we reach out to each other with compassion and understanding to all those who suffer from sorrow and loneliness. God is truly within each one of us as we reach out with forgiveness and mercy to all those who have offended us in any way.
For all of these virtues of compassion, mercy and understanding rely upon the greatest virtue of all. And Paul explains it to us in his Letter to the Ephesians, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us…” And in his First Letter to the Corinthians, he writes, “Love is patient, love is kind…(Love) rejoices with the truth.”
Love is that special quality, that special attribute which allows us to emulate the very Nature of God Himself – for love is the highest of all the theological virtues!
To be a Christian people means that we are set apart as a people who embrace the virtue of love in our daily lives. We give witness to our faith by truly showing that God does dwell within us when we, as a people of God, truly care for our brothers and sisters, especially when we give selflessly without any expectation of return.
For each of us to truly live the idea that “God is with us” means that we are to be Christ-like in our every thought and in our every word and deed – especially when life can become most difficult. Our Lord, Himself, gave us the example of what it means to truly love, even in the midst of pain and discouragement, for He loved us without limit even from the Cross, even when His Humanity cried out in despair to His Father and ours.
Our life as a faithful people brings to mind a song which I am sure most of us are familiar, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” And Christmas helps us to better understand the depth of God’s Love for you and me, especially when we contemplate all that His Son has done for each and every one of us.
On this last Sunday of Advent, may we seek intimacy in our life with our God and with each other, for it is the spirit of Christmas which reminds us of God’s Love, and how we are to love selflessly as Christ loves each of us. It is the spirit of Christmas which helps us grow in our relationship with the Divine Child who came to us, so that we may have eternal life with Him – a life filled with love, a life filled with peace and never-ending joy.
Truly, throughout each and every day of our lives, in both good times and bad, in times of joy and sorrow – “God is with us!”
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.” (Matthew 1:23 cf. Isaiah 7:14bc)
- “Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles, among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; to all the beloved of God…called to be holy.” (Romans 1:5-7a)
- “Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us…” (Ephesians 5:1ab)
- “Love is patient, love is kind…(Love) rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:4a, 6b)
- “The LORD of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.” (Psalm 46:12)
- “Those who honor your name trust in you; you never forsake those who seek you, O LORD.” (Psalm 9:11)
- “For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save.” (Psalm 72:12-13)
- “O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” (Isaiah 25:1)
- “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy.” (Hebrews 10:23)
- “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” (1 John 4:16)
Prayer for the Day
“You are our eternal salvation, the unfailing Light of the world.
Light everlasting, You are truly our redemption.
Grieving that the human race was perishing
through the tempter’s power, without leaving the heights
You came to the depths in Your loving kindness.
“Readily taking our humanity by Your gracious will,
You saved all earthly creatures, long since lost,
Restoring joy to the world.
Redeem our souls and bodies, O Christ,
and so possess us as Your shining dwellings.
“By Your First Coming, make us righteous;Anonymous, 10th century
At your Second Coming, set us free:
So that, when the world is filled with Your Light
and You judge all things, we may be clad in spotless robes
and follow in Your steps, O King, into the Heavenly Hall.”