Fourth Sunday of Advent
I know some people who are already tired of Christmas. For weeks we have been hearing Christmas carols: on the radio, in shopping centers, in the supermarkets and even over the telephone when we’re put on hold and Christmas decorations have been up since Halloween. We all know the reason for this commercialization of Christmas. It is “good for business”. Many retailers make a good part of their year’s profit in these final weeks of the year. We may say that we dislike the commercialization of Christmas, however, are we aware that it has a Christian origin? Do you know why we give gifts at Christmas? We give gifts to one another at Christmas because it is the time when God gave us the greatest gift of all: His Son.
Even though today is Christmas Eve it is first and foremost the Fourth Sunday of Advent. This morning the Church asks us to reflect on Readings that are very much Advent in character. The central figure in today’s Gospel is our Blessed Mother Mary. We hear that the Angel Gabriel appears to her to tell her that she was chosen by God to become the other of the Savior of the world. As Gabriel explains God’s plan to her regarding the birth of Jesus, Mary listens quietly. Then after some reflection she simply says, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Many times during the course of our lives we have asked others to pray for us especially when we are in difficult circumstances, facing some crisis or suffering an illness. Priests receive this request all the time. How fitting it is then to ask, as we Catholics constantly do, the intercession of the saints who are now with God in Heaven. In particular, we can ask for the prayers of our Blessed Mother in the more difficult times of life. She never gave up when things may not have been that clear to her and she may not have fully comprehended the events that were unfolding. She is a woman who believed that God could accomplish the impossible. What better preparation could we make for Christmas on this final Advent Sunday than to imitate the trust and fidelity of our Blessed Mother Mary.
Fr. Jim Volkert