4th Sunday Advent Homily Year A



4th Sunday Advent Homily Year A

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FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT – Preparing for Christmas
INTRODUCTION AND CONFITEOR
We are getting very close to Christmas, and the pace of things is hotting up. There are so many things calling for our time and attention. The result could be that the spiritual side of Christmas hardly gets a look in.

Let us pause to make room in our minds and hearts so that Christ may come to us during this Mass. [Pause].

Lord, you come to us with your light to dispel the darkness caused by sin. Lord, have mercy.

Lord comes to us with your peace to banish from among us rivalry and war. Christ, have mercy.

You come to us with your hope to dispel from our midst the gloom of despair; Lord, have mercy.

HEADINGS FOR READINGS
First Reading (Isaiah 7: 10-14). This reading foretells the birth of a very special child – a child who will be called Emmanuel, God-with-us.

Second Reading (Romans 1:1-7). This contains the opening lines from St Paul’s letter to the Christians at Rome. In them he refers to the human and divine ‘roots’ of Christ.

Gospel (Matthew 1:18-25). Joseph, the just man, is told that Mary’s child was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the mission of this child is to save his people from their sins.

HOMILY
Many Christians are deeply worried about the commercialisation of Christmas. Suppose our manner of celebrating Christmas was put on trial, how do you think such a trial would go? Let’s see. (Two pulpits could be used to good effect).
Case Against
I’m talking to people who want to celebrate Christmas properly, so I’ll pull no punches. I’ll tell you exactly what I think.

Let’s face it, Christmas is nothing but a big spending spree. Think of the cards, gifts, toys, decorations, food, drink, and so on, that we are forced to buy and consume. It‘s all a money racket. The only people to benefit are the traders who laugh all the way to the crib. And it’s getting worse. Each year it starts earlier. If it goes on like this we’ll find pretty soon that we’re singing ‘White Christmas’ as early as June.

At a time of widespread famine, it encourages excessive eating. As for drinking! Some people would not think it was Christmas if they were still steady on their feet at the end of the day. And it encourages the worst kind, of selfishness in our children. We spoil them by buying them all sorts of expensive toys which they neither need nor appreciate. Santa Claus has become more important than Christ.

It’s one mad frantic rush, which hots up as the big day draws near. It leaves people exhausted and frustrated. More people are killed on the roads at this time than at any other.

It raises false hopes, especially among the poor, the lonely, and the depressed. Everybody looks forward to it with heightened feelings, naively expecting something out of the ordinary. It awakens memories in the lonely that are best left asleep. When Christmas is over people feel worse off than ever.

Season of peace and goodwill how are you! Instead of bringing us together, it makes ants out of us, fighting each other for the best bargains. It doesn’t really break down any barriers between people, because we share our goodwill only with our friends and acquaintances. Enemies are never guests at the Christmas banquet. Oh yes, on Christmas morning we reach out our hand to others, but we quickly dash back into our shells. Christmas goodwill is like a flower that blooms and dies in the one day. It’s not for nothing that the day after Christmas is called ‘Boxing Day’. On Christmas Day we treat each other like pieces of china. The following day we treat each other like footballs.

As for religious meaning, it does a disservice to our religion. It’s getting less Christian every year. It lets loose a tidal wave of materialism. The spiritual hasn’t a chance. It gets carried away like a leaf in a storm. Some people make a brave effort, but it’s hopeless, like swimming against a powerful tide. Instead of preparing a way for the Lord, all it does is prepare a way for commercialism. What I find most objectionable is the mingling of God and Mammon, something which Christ utterly condemned.

It’s a pagan feast. The headlines are dominated, not by the birth of Christ, but by threatened strikes, the price of turkeys, and the coming glut of television shows. Christ hardly gets a look in. Yet to celebrate Christmas without Christ is like celebrating a wedding without the bride and groom.

It’s all such a terrible waste of time, effort, and money. Christmas is a poor shop window for our religion. The shop should be closed down. It’s an embarrassment to true followers of Christ. Christ would have nothing to do with it. Neither should we.
When all is said and done, Christmas recalls the greatest event of all time – the incarnation. This means that God’s Son came down on earth so as to raise us up by conferring on us the dignity of children of God. This is the heart of the whole thing.
Of course there is a lot of loneliness at Christmas. But Christ comes to share this loneliness with us. It is when we are lonely that we can reach out to him and he will befriend us.
But there is a great deal of togetherness at Christmas too. There is a great out-pouring of goodwill. People we have forgotten during the rest of the year are remembered. Scattered families are reunited. That can’t be a bad thing.

Then wars cease. If only for a short while we see how wrong killing is. It is better to get a glimpse of the light than to live in perpetual darkness.

Nor are the poor forgotten. More is done for them at this time of the year than at any other time. Christmas encourages generosity, and gives people an opportunity to share with the less fortunate. Christmas touches our hearts and opens them to God and to other people. Scrooge, the shut-in miser, is driven from our hearts, and we feel liberated and renewed.
I admit that there are some excesses in eating and drinking. But it is right that people should be happy and celebrate at this time. Christ comes among us with his gifts of hope, joy, peace, and light. It is no time for long faces.

I don’t agree for one moment that it is devoid of religious meaning. I think it acts as a great spiritual tonic to many people. The churches are over-flowing. Many prodigals come back to God at this time. If only for one day, they experience the warmth of his house and his love.
I know that commercialism is rampant at this time. But this shouldn’t surprise us or get us down. Christ told us that there will be weeds among the wheat right until judgment day. But this doesn’t mean that we have to leave the whole field to them. We must go on sowing the good seed. Christmas is a marvellous opportunity to do this.

My friend said that there is simply no room for Christ in our Christmas, and he made his case very eloquently. But let us never forget that there was no room for him either the first time he came.

The inn-keeper refused to take him in. But he still came to those who were waiting for him. Even if our world has little room for him, he still comes. He comes to all those who, like Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, are ready to welcome him. He I will come to us too.
All we need do is make a little space for him in the manger of our hearts.
Verdict
Well, the verdict is not so simple. In any case, it is not for me to pronounce it. You see, this is a most unusual trial. We are not only the chief witnesses. We are also, the accused and the judges.
It is each of us that is on trial with regard to the manner in which we celebrate the birthday of Christ our Saviour. Therefore, each of us has to reach the verdict for himself or herself. But the verdict is not possible for another reason. The trial is still going on during these very days.

PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL
Let us pray that we may understand in our hearts and experience in our lives the true meaning of the coming of Christ. R. Come, Lord Jesus.
For all Christians: that they may celebrate the birth of Christ with the simplicity and joy of Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. [Pause].
Let us pray to the Lord.
For all temporal leaders: that in their administration of justice they may make room for the poor and weak members of society. [Pause]. Let us pray to the Lord.
For the old, the sick, and the lonely: that they may experience the presence of Christ this Christmas. [Pause]. Let us pray to the Lord.
That Jesus may be born in each of us, for he could be born a thousand times in Bethlehem, but it would all be in vain unless he is born in us. [Pause]. Let us pray to the Lord.
For local needs.

Let us pray:
O God, Father of every family, against whom no door can be shut, convert our hearts and our homes into fit dwelling places for Christ your Son. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.

COMMUNION REFLECTION
Some years ago a distraught woman
threw her new-born baby into a canal.
The baby was rescued by a young man.
Later, on radio, he described the rescue.
When he took the baby from the canal
it was so cold and lifeless that he thought it was dead.
Nevertheless, he brought it into a nearby house,
laid it down in front of the fire,
and suddenly it came back to life.
‘It was just like Christmas,’ he said.
Christmas is a wonderful time.
It’s not true that it‘s just about children.
It’s about us all.
We may consider ourselves very ordinary.
But nobody is ordinary any longer,
not since Christ came on earth.
Yet he did not come to bring us anything.
He came to awaken us to what we already are.
We are all children of God.
Let us pray that we may understand in our hearts and experience in our lives the true meaning of the coming of Christ. R. Come, Lord Jesus.
For all Christians: that they may celebrate the birth of Christ with the simplicity and joy of Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. [Pause].
Let us pray to the Lord.
For all temporal leaders: that in their administration of justice they may make room for the poor and weak members of society. [Pause]. Let us pray to the Lord.
For the old, the sick, and the lonely: that they may experience the presence of Christ this Christmas. [Pause]. Let us pray to the Lord.
That Jesus may be born in each of us, for he could be born a thousand times in Bethlehem, but it would all be in vain unless he is born in us. [Pause]. Let us pray to the Lord.
For local needs.
Let us pray:
O God, Father of every family, against whom no door can be shut, convert our hearts and our homes into fit dwelling places for Christ your Son. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.

COMMUNION REFLECTION
Some years ago a distraught woman
threw her new-born baby into a canal.
The baby was rescued by a young man.
Later, on radio, he described the rescue.
When he took the baby from the canal
it was so cold and lifeless that he thought it was dead.
Nevertheless, he brought it into a nearby house,
laid it down in front of the fire,
and suddenly it came back to life.
‘It was just like Christmas,’ he said.
Christmas is a wonderful time.
It’s not true that it‘s just about children.
It’s about us all.
We may consider ourselves very ordinary.
But nobody is ordinary any longer,
not since Christ came on earth.
Yet he did not come to bring us anything.
He came to awaken us to what we already are.
We are all children of God.

About the author

rosarytamil@gmail.com administrator