Fourth Sunday of Advent
Reading I Book of the Prophet Micah
Psalm Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
Reading II Letter to the Hebrews 10:5-10
Alleluia Luke 1:38
Gospel Luke 1:39-45
Have you heard the voice of an angel lately? You noticed that in Scripture the angel spoke to Mary, the angel spoke to Elizabeth, and the angel spoke to Zachariah. But Joseph heard the message in a dream.
When the angel of God speaks he opens up to every single person. So when you and I hear angels, it’s not like you are walking around the house hearing things, it’s only when we open up to that gift that we can hear God speaking to us throughout our lives. We learn how God decides to choose: A couple who couldn’t have children and then when they became older and way beyond child-bearing years, they are asked to receive a son. If you remember the story that comes in Scripture, Zachariah didn’t quite get what was happening. He said, “I don’t believe you unless you give me a sign.” And the minute he was given a sign he could no longer speak. He could not speak through the entire pregnancy until they brought John The Baptist into the temple. When they offered the child back to God, Zachariah began again to speak.
We learn how Mary, a young girl and not married, was asked to welcome the child of God. And how Joseph, in the midst of the whole thing, just said, “I don’t understand but I’ll go along with it.” So you have two cousins being born. One is going to proclaim the path for the other. The other is going to proclaim the path for the whole world. From generation upon generation, this child is going to take every single person back to God.
When you translate that into our lives, it happens all the time. Every one of us — when we were born and when we were conceived in the womb — God spoke to our parents, “I want you to have this child. And this child will be great in my kingdom.” If we are all getting that same message then no one has to feel like he or she is a second-class citizen in this world because everyone was conceived for a definite purpose and that was to transform everyone else around them.
And so, on this Christmas, we have to ask ourselves, “If all of this is true, then have I accepted the fact that I am a child of God and that in my life I need to do something to make a difference in the world? And what is that?” It is not the same for any of us; it’s just that we need to hear that voice. Every child that comes into the world is different and we cannot make any sense of it. Why is one child stillborn? Why is one child crippled? Why is one child absolutely beautiful? Why is one child receiving gold medals? Why is one child receiving two or three doctorates? Why? Why? Simply because God says, “What I give to you, no one else has.”
That is a powerful message. So it is what we do with that gift, and with our birth, that makes all the difference in the world. So you and I, as we approach Christmas Day and when we come to church each week that gift of faith allows us to put aside everything and to realize that, “Yes, God wants to speak to me. God wants me to be able to change the world in some way.”
One time my parents were visiting friends. I was not with them and a lady in the parish asked my mother, “It must have been very hard to let your son become a priest.” This lady later told me, “Your Mom changed my life completely. Your Mom said to me, ‘Well, when he was born and we had him baptized, we gave him back to God and whatever God wants to do — that’s up to God.’ ”
We all need to realize the power of love, the power of life. So 2,000 years later this is what Christmas is all about. That’s why we have parties and families gather and we share gifts and we send cards and we travel to be with our families. It’s during these moments when we come together that we realize how beautiful it is that we all heard the voice — and we all said, “Yes.”
This morning as you come forth to receive communion or receive the blessing you will hear: The body of Christ, Amen. The blood of Christ, Amen. May God bless you always. That’s what we are preparing for and that’s why every moment we are saying, “Amen.” What we presume to be good or bad in our lives, God says, “Just remember. I created you in such a beautiful way. All I ask is for that “yes.”
The other evening, when all of us gathered at the Unitarian Church, we realized that everyone is created good. But in the midst some are still searching for that good, and so in the process of that search they make decisions that affect everyone else but in a negative way. But on that day when they finally do discover that they, too, are created by God — then they have to lay down all their arms, and then open these arms and embrace each other.
It does not happen in thirty days. Wars and indifference have been going on way beyond what we have recorded even in the Bible. But when this Son of God came into the world, his love has never disappeared. And that’s why you and I have faith. So when we wish one another a Merry Christmas what we are really saying is, “I thank God that you have been created so beautiful. And I thank God that you have gifts that I don’t have. But together may we open our eyes and form a circle of love and cling to each other and then we shall have Christmas joy.
“Rejoice always, I say. Rejoice.”
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0024)