Sunday, December 20, 2015

4th SUDAY OF ADVENT READINGS AND COMMENTS

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 12

Reading 1 Mi 5:1-4a

Thus says the LORD:
You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
and the rest of his kindred shall return
to the children of Israel.
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
and they shall remain, for now his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace.

Reading 2 Heb 10:5-10

Brothers and sisters:
When Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.’“

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Gospel Lk 1:39-45

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

~*~

Brothers and Sisters,

On this fourth and final Sunday of Advent, I note that the focus is on women, specifically the Virgin Mary, her cousin Elizabeth and the babies that were in each one's womb. While Mary was very young when she conceived through the power of The Holy Spirit, her cousin Elizabeth was old, beyond conceiving and carry a child to term. But here they reunite when Mary goes to Judah to see her cousin. Is the movement of Elizabeth's baby in her womb at the presence of Mary with child mere coincidence, or miraculous? It was quite miraculous, enough so for Elizabeth to compel Elizabeth to tell Mary of it. The proof is in the fact that she, Elizabeth, was immediately filled with The Holy Spirit. You have surely been filled with The Holy Spirit in your lifetime, and if not, trust me, you KNOW when it occurs. It's all encompassing; it takes away your breath; you feel a chill from head to toe, and lastly, your hear physically feels fuller! What a blessing!

With the focus on these women and their children to be born, we need to think about our roles as mothers today and how we guide our children into adulthood. Mary was obviously a very attentive mother, yet Jesus would manage to escape from her view and she would always find him in the temple speaking with the elders with such intellect that it bowled them over.

Mothers and Fathers, your children cannot and will not always be within your sight. But when they are born and you begin to raise them, the earliest years are some of the most valuable in their teaching. They learn through your example about yelling, or not, kindness, or not, love, hugs, kisses and returning the same. Mary was an excellent mother, yet she knew that Jesus would always be guided by His Father, God. She accepted this as a tremendous blessing, and that would be putting is mildly. She raised Jesus the very best she could along with her husband, Joseph. But, she knew that one day, Jesus would leave the home and set about his journey of converting sinners for his Father God.

It is in this time, Christmas, that is it natural for children to look forward to Santa, toys and gifts under the Christmas tree.  However, it is crucial that you also teach them what Christmas means, what the birth of the infant Jesus means, and then continue your teaching based on Jesus' sermons for the remainder of their time with you.

Mothers are very special. They are able to form the bond with their children long before the father inasmuch as they carry the child in their wombs, the baby hears their voice, and they are nurtured from the mother's body during the term of their time before birth.

Mothers and Fathers, remember that a child is a miracle of God; that God expects you to do your best to raise that child to a productive, mindful, and kind Christian. Teach your children well, for the benefits to you are ten-fold, at the very least.

God bless you,
ABBEY

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