On this Fourth Sunday of Advent we light all the candles on the Advent wreath, the fourth and final candle symbolizing the four thousand year wait of the Chosen people for the Messiah. For us as the days grow ever shorter the light of the Advent wreath grows brighter, as we anticipate the Feast of Lights, the Lord of lights; the One who came into the world. In some churches a final candle is added to the wreath, a Christ candle for He who is the light of the world comes into the world to dispel the darkness and is still our light. Where do we need Christ’s light in our lives?
And so we echo John the Baptist’s cry “Prepare the Way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Last week John gave us practical advice on how to prepare, share our food with the hungry, clothe the naked, act honestly and justly in business transactions, and be satisfied with what we have. We carry on John’s message today, by the way we treat our brothers and sisters especially the least among us. There is still so much to do for so many who are in need in our world.
The “yes’ began with Mary and continued with her, a young girl who said yes to the angel Gabriel who announced that she would be the Mother of God. Aware of her pregnancy, aware of her cousin Elizabeth’s joy, she travels to a town of Judah to visit her cousin. It is John, the child to be born who leaps for joy that he is in the presence of the fruit of her womb. Elizabeth blesses her cousin Mary and we can only imagine the conversation that passed back and forth between these two holy women. They share a precious bond, two lives who will make a profound impact on the world. Two lives with two different but similar missions. John, known as the Baptist, prepares the way and Jesus is the way for others to follow. John challenges people to repent from their sins, turn their hearts and minds toward God and pay close attention to the words of the prophets. Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies, for He is the one who came to heal and save, came to forgive sins, and heal people from their infirmities. Jesus is the fulfillment of all that came before.
Clearly Jesus is the reason for this holy season, a season than means more than presents, but closely tied up in His presence of love and mercy. Hopefully, behind every present under the tree is the love and care of the giver, extending their heartfelt joy to those who will receive the carefully selected gifts. May we reflect on the greatest gift we have ever received, the life and love of Jesus in the Eucharist, a gift we can receive, unwrap and experience every single Sunday of the year.
Come, Lord Jesus, come, come anew into our lives and hearts. Let us get ready for the Nativity, the birth of the Lord, the gift of our salvation.
Father Larry Hendel, Pastor