19 December 2021 – 4th Sunday of Advent (Year C)

By Father Francis Anthony

Micah 5:1-4
Psalm 79:2-3,15-16,18-19
Hebrews 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-45

Theme: Blessed is the fruit of thy womb

Dear friends,

Days are going by and before we realised, we are already reaching Christmas.  And in a very intense way, we have been preparing very symbolically, lighting the candles here with various aspiration that we would like to live by.  It is not the candle of hope, a candle of love and peace and so forth.  That is what I want.  

When I celebrate Christmas, I want to have that zeal.  I want to have that peace, I want to be a person of hope and not saying “Everything is finished, gone”.  I want to be a person of love, sharing what I have. Not money, I mean.  All the values I’ve got, I’m sharing, to bring about love to others.  And today is the lighting of love.

Christmas is not going back to the day Jesus was born.  Yes, that is what we are celebrating.  We are celebrating what God is giving us and wanting us to respond to him in the same manner.

In the 1st reading from Prophet Micah, here it says that the remnant of his brothers, they will come back (referring to the return of the Jewish people from exile).  And who is responsible for that?  It is not Cyrus, the Persian King.  Due to the inspiration God has given him (we read the text), he lets the people to go back with all the money they required to rebuilt their temple and their city.  

And what is God expecting us because of his generosity for us?  We have to read it in a very personal way.  We might not have gone to an exile and somebody liberated us.  In a very personal way, what is the thing that is crushing me, bonding me, not liberating me, making me feel guilty and so forth?  How am I coming out of it?

And the 2nd reading comes very beautifully for that.  It is not oblation and sacrifices.  And what is God wanting and it is here in the text, at least twice: coming to obey your law.  Yes, I am coming.  Not with all my gifts.  Yes. When very often these gifts are something external, I get something or I do something, finished.  But when it comes to obedience, it comes from deep within me: I am coming.

And this is a challenge.  I am coming to obey.  I want to do what you want me to do. Not “I want to do for you”.  You are doing a lot of things – liberating me, loving me, giving me hope, giving me peace.  But now through obedience, I am coming to you.  And this is difficult.

And I’ll take up the Gospel text.  Very often, we say Mary visited her cousin, Elizabeth.  Yes. Look, she had to make a journey from Nazareth to Ein Karem, where Zechariah’s house was.  There was no Air Asia or Grab.  How she journeyed, do not ask me.  But she took the difficulties that came her way to do what she wanted.

And likewise, it might be difficult for us to obey.  Where it requires, I have to change.  I have to leave one place to go to another place.  Take Mary, a woman who was carrying a child, did not give excuses but she demonstrated her love and willingly went and helped her cousin.

So, my dear friends, as we are going into Christmas in a few day’s time, let it not just go round and we say “Merry Christmas”.  And then don’t know why we always link “Happy New Year” also.  Let the merriness come, with real, in the way our Muslim brothers wish one another “Salam mualaikum.  Peace be to you“.  And the response is “Mualaikum salam.  And the same peace with you“.

Let us give ourselves, not the words.  Now there’s no more hand shaking these days.  But our wish is that the other will have the fullness of life, joy, peace, love, hope and we are going to, with all our efforts, share that with others.

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