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Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year B

Posted by frmac on December 16, 2008

Have you ever wondered why Christmas is so special? Why it has become the one day of the year that is planned, anticipated, cherished, remembered, etc… I think you know what I mean. Yes, it has become overly commercialized and is at risk of being called “Santa’s Day’ & the ‘Holiday Season’, and its true meaning and significance ignored and forgotten. But I don’t want to get into these things right now. I would like to focus on why I think this one Christian Feast day has captured our attention and imagination.

It has something to do with babies. I’m sure you’ve noticed how the most stern and sophisticated amongst us can be made to smile and even speak baby talk when brought into the presence of a sweet cuddly baby. Who can resist – not many of us – it’s who we are. A little baby has the power to bring out the child in each of us, to warm our hearts, and to put a smile on our lips, more than almost anyone or anything I know.

Christmas is all about one little baby – the baby Jesus. When we see the powerful mighty God coming to us as a baby, we don’t feel threatened at all. Religion has often taught us to be terrified of God, but at Christmas our terror is cast aside when we sing hymns like A Way In A Manager, O Little Town of Bethlehem, or Silent Night. Who could be afraid of the ‘holy infant so tender and mild’ we sing to in Silent Night? This is as true today, as it was yesteryear. God does not want us be terrified, God wants us to know love, and to be loved.

This is why I think Christmas has captured our imagination and become so significant. It is the feast that allows the human heart to rise above fear, and truly rejoice in God’s love. What better way for God to approach us, and have us enter into a deep loving spiritual relationship.

God does not want us to be afraid, God tells us so. We can’t love, if we are terrified. When we read the Gospels we often come across the words: “Do not be afraid.” We heard it just a few minutes ago when Gabriel appeared to Mary. Almost the first words out of the angel’s mouth were: “Do Not be afraid.”

Throughout Jesus’ life, and even after his Resurrection, he told his apostles and followers not to be afraid:

Storm at Sea: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)

Cure of Jairus’ daughter: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” (Mark 5:36)

Disciples’ fearing persecution: “Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)

“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom” (Luke: 12:32)

Transfiguration: “Rise, and do not be afraid.” (Matthew 17:7)

Appearance to Mary Magdalene: “Do not be afraid.” (Matthew: 28:10)

Vision to Paul at Corinth: “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking…I am with you.” (Acts 18:-10)

As we celebrate Eucharist this last Sunday of advent, let us give thanks to God for the marvellous season of Christmas – a time to gaze into the eyes of the baby Jesus and know and experience the power and warmth of God’s love.

Note: I rarely present homilies as written. I provide them here in the hope that there might be a thought or idea that will inspire.

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