Fourth Sunday of Advent

At the Christmas liturgies, in hundreds of nations, billions of people will look at statues or pictures of the body of Baby Jesus. Moreover, hundreds of millions of people always carry with them crucifixes depicting the crucified body of Jesus. There is something awesome and mysterious about the body of Jesus.

When the body of Jesus was just beginning to be formed shortly after Mary conceived Him, Mary took Jesus’ body “into the hill country to a town of Judah, where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Lk 1:39-41). The first days of the presence of Jesus’ body on earth resulted in an explosion by the Holy Spirit.

Several months later, wise men saw the body of Baby Jesus and were compelled to give Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Mt 2:11).

Several years later, thousands of people touched “just the tassel” of the cloak clothing Jesus’ body, and “all who touched Him got well” (see Mk 6:56).

Today, we can touch the body of Christ in even more powerful and intimate ways by loving the Body of Christ, the Church (see Eph 5:25ff), and especially by receiving the Body of Christ in Holy Communion. That is why the season beginning Tuesday is called “Christmas,” for at Mass we touch Christ’s Body.

“Mary Christ-Mass”! Like Mary, receive the Body of Christ in your body.

 

Third Sunday of Advent

The Lord, through St. Paul, commands and graces us to rejoice in Him always (Phil 4:4). No matter how many problems we have, no matter how bad we feel — the fact that we are “in the Lord” dwarfs everything else. How can we let a little cloud or two eclipse the Son? When we fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2), the Son of God (Mk 1:1), He will reveal to us our heavenly Father (Lk 10:22; Jn 14:6), Who is the Source of our joy. Jesus and the Holy Spirit will show us our Abba (see Gal 4:6) rejoicing over each one of us with gladness and renewing us in His love (Zep 3:17). We will see the reality that God Himself, our Abba, is at this moment singing joyfully because of us, His adopted children (Rm 8:15; Zep 3:17). Abba’s joyous singing is quite contagious — especially for His children. In the presence of Abba, we find ourselves breaking out into song and singing our parts in the Trinitarian musical. Our everlasting songs of joy drown out our passing sorrows. We “rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!” (Phil 4:4)

Second Sunday of Advent

We are walking a path through the millennia to our heavenly home. Our path is obstructed by rough, winding, mountainous terrain (Lk 3:5; see also Mt 7:14). Possibly the most difficult obstacles we face are “age-old depths and gorges” (Bar 5:7). “Age -old depths” have become very deep, and the drop-offs are steep. It is usually impossible to walk down or walk up a gorge. Climbing down or up a gorge is so dangerous that the climbers risk their lives. Spiritually speaking, “age-old depths and gorges” may be strongholds, sophistries, and proud pretensions which raise themselves in opposition to Jesus (see 2 Cor 10:4-5). “Depths and gorges” may be the sinful habits etched into our lives (see Col 3:7). To fill in these gorges of sinfulness and thus be able to continue our journey home, we must repent, deny ourselves, and lose our sinful lives (Lk 9:23-24). When we celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Lord will peel off layer after layer of blinding sinfulness, and gorges which naturally become worse obstacles will be supernaturally filled and miraculously disappear. Make one of your Advent Confessions as soon as possible. Make the treacherous ravines and “grand canyons” of your life passable. Come home.

First Sunday of Advent

Each Advent season begins with a reading from Isaiah, for Isaiah is the great prophet of the Messiah. This reading is taken from the latest part of the Book of Isaiah. After the return to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon the Jews were passionately awaiting the coming of the Messiah. They were conscious that they had sinned and deserved their punishment, but still longed for the liberation from foreign interference that the Messiah would bring. After the coming of Christ we are in much the same position of waiting for the fulfillment of the sovereignty or kingship of God. Jesus brought the pledge of this kingship by his miracles of healing, his welcome to sinners, his teaching about the Kingdom and, above all, by his Resurrection from the dead. We no longer have any reason to fear death. We are conscious of our own failings, of our cooperation with evil, and long for the strength and fidelity that wholehearted membership of God’s Kingdom would bring us.