Year C, 4th Sunday of Advent – 23 December

This last Advent Sunday’s ENTRANCE ANTIPHON proclaims: “let the earth be opened and bring forth a saviour.”

Good! However, let none of us forget that (i) this has already happened, (ii) it needs to happen again, and (iii) in order for this to become a reality we all need to play our own, effective, roles. There is only one more day to go so it should not prove too onerous a task for us to make a significant contribution.

Let us begin by reflecting on matters from each of the four Scriptures.

MICAH 5: 2 – 5a

PSALM 80 (or 79)

HEBREWS 10: 5 – 10

LUKE 1: 39 – 45

The Ephrathah attached to Bethlehem designates the district. This was necessary because there were a number of small towns named with the prefix Beth. Although Bethlehem was the town of David it remained surprisingly insignificant in the local geography of the time. Hence Micah’s description: “who are little to be among the clans of Judah.” Nevertheless the town is to play an essential role in God’s plan: “from you shall come forth for me.”

Something of value must come forth from every one of us. It matters not how little it may be or how insignificant we may evaluate it. WE MUST GIVE BIRTH TO IT – FOR HIM!

Do not hesitate to do something special and particular – take courage from words in our Psalm …. “may your hand be on the one at your right hand. … the one you have confirmed as your own.” The Lord God lives among and with us, we stand right next to him, and have been confirmed as his own. Why be hesitant to bring forth something special for him? After all, we have already spent time and effort on gifts for other people – why not something special for HIM?

Then, add a challenge to these last hours of Advent by latching on to words from our New Testament extract which states: “I have come to do your will … it is written of me in the roll of the book.” I need to resolutely place myself here at the very door of Christmas: HERE I AM. Now, I present for your consideration one of my own more personal ‘approaches’, which – I am sure – may be rejected on all sorts of theological and scriptural grounds. Nevertheless I find it helpful …. “it is written of me in the roll of the book.”

We all know the old image of the ‘recording angel’? Well I see a page of ‘the book’ with my name on it – together with a list (not too long I hope?) of all the things I am capable of doing for the Lord. The recording angel simply ticks them off as I do them – but genuine effort is the litmus test, not achievement. The diminishing hours of Advent must spur me on to a little more effort. The Lord is at my right hand, and he has confirmed me as his own – – – it is a good idea for me to give evidence that I am aware of this, and so obtain at least one tick against my list!

“Behold I have come to do you will” is repeated twice in the extract from Hebrews. It is a spur for me to be gracious and offer some special hospitality to Jesus Christ.

As far as our Gospel reading is concerned, it is helpful for us to place ourselves in Mary’s shoes. Read and hear the extract as descriptive of opportunities given (especially at this time of the year) to each one of us. However, I need to believe what the Lord has spoken to me. AND, I must not hesitate – “Mary went with haste!” There was no should I / should I not?

Why not surprise the recording angel by doing something unexpected …. “why is this?” Why should I not jolt the angel out of boredom in the job of monitoring my usual lack-of-activity?

Let us end with a few words about HOPE! We need to have hope at this time – hope in the Lord, and hope in ourselves. Hope is not entirely bound to the future, but is tied to the present. Advent itself is a prayer of hope for the future based on our present connection to the reality of Jesus Christ. Hope does not believe that everything will be fine, but it waits and works for the Lord’s coming in many different ways.

Hope allows us to transform the present for the future. It is based on the acceptance of God loving me NOW.

I build hope by discovering how loved I really am.