Saturday, December 27, 2008

4th Sunday of Advent

Little green notepads, flashlights and tube socks. Throughout all my Christmas memories I consistently remember these three gifts: little green notepads, flashlights and tube socks. We always got my dad his yearly supply of little green notepads; they fit into his shirt pockets and he used them predictably. Speaking of my dad, he always got us flashlights: maglights, led powered, and even crank powered- but our stockings always had a new flashlight. As for the socks, well, whose Christmas doesn’t include socks? Some things are always the same. We know, more or less certainly, what we will receive on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. We know the gifts, the dinner, the cookies, and we even know how much weight we will gain as well as how long it will take to loose it.

What have we received spiritually at Christmas? Have we received joy, conversion, love of God or some other spiritual consolation? Or has your spiritual experience of Christmas been little different than green notebooks, flashlights, and tube socks?

The Church gives us this Gospel passage on this final Sunday of Advent to whet our spiritual appetites for Christmas. This was the pivotal moment of God’s relationship with humanity. Through out the Old Testament, God revealed himself partially, gradually, as we all do in our own relationships. But like a long courtship, here is the definitive moment. Mary represents all of humanity as she stands before the angel Gabriel and hears God’s fullest proposal to all of us. And Mary said yes. For herself and for all of us Mary said yes.

Each year at Christmas should be an opportunity for us to stand with Mary and receive God’s proposal. Jesus desires to be our intimate friend, our ready help, and our fullest fulfillment. All the ways that Jesus has called us, corrected us, and revealed himself to us through out the year can come to a peak at this moment. Can we say yes?

Mary didn’t say yes by her own strength, by her own ability. She is called “full of grace,” and told that the “power of the Most High will overshadow you.” It was the Holy Spirit who gave her the strength and courage to respond to the Lord’s call. The Lord offers us that very same Spirit in the life of His Church. Can we say yes?

Mary’s yes didn’t stop there, it wasn’t a fairy tale where “they all lived happily ever after,” but this was real life. Mary had to endure many trials- loosing Jesus for three days in the Temple when he was twelve and then sharing the agony of His crucifixion and death. Through it all, Mary was sustained by the Spirit of fortitude and remained faithful to her yes. Can we say yes?

We have all said, “yes,” in our baptism, our confirmation, our confessions, and our Sunday Mass. We know that even if we are unfaithful to our “yes,” our Lord will never abandon us. His friendship is constant and His desire is for our holiness and happiness. In these final days before Christmas, let us ask for Mary’s help so that we may follow her Son and her Lord with her very same faithfulness.

[Any profundity comes from Pope Benedict's Angelus message at WYD 2008]

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