Sunday, 18 December 2016 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate together the occasion of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the last of the four Sundays of Advent, and a sign that we are approaching Christmas really soon, which is in fact going to occur just next week. As we approach closer to the time of Christmas, we should have used this time of Advent to prepare ourselves mentally and spiritually to welcome our Lord Jesus as we remember His first coming into this world two millennia ago.

The Lord has shown His promise to be true and His dedication to us and to His covenant to be trustworthy, as He has fulfilled what He had prophesied right from the beginning of time, of what He was going to do in order to save all of His people, that is by the sending of the Deliverer and Saviour into the world, the One through Whom the salvation of God would be made a reality, and all of God’s people would be redeemed from their sins and from their fated destruction.

In the very beginning, God had made His words to Adam and Eve, as well as Satan very clear. If we read through the first chapters of the Book of Genesis, we can see how God cursed Satan for his role in bringing about the downfall of mankind, for his jealousy against God and against mankind. But he was allowed to test the sons and daughters of men, and for a long time, he was a great trouble for mankind. God said that he would seize the heels of the sons of men, but at the same time, He also promised that from the Woman that was to come, salvation would come and Satan would be crushed.

That Woman was to be the Virgin, the same one whom the prophet Isaiah mentioned in the first reading today to king Ahaz of Judah. And that cane about a time when the people of God had fallen away back into their sinful ways, as they had repeatedly throughout their history, ever since the days of Abraham, to the days of Moses, when they chose to worship the golden calf and the pagan idols instead of the Lord God, and right down to the time of the kings.

It is a constant reminder that while mankind had been unfaithful and disobedient, but God never forgot about them, and neither did He want them to perish, lest it was they themselves who rejected God’s generous offer of mercy, forgiveness and grace. God did not create us to see us destroyed or perish meaninglessly. He created us all, each and every one of us out of His love for us, or otherwise He would not have created us in the first place. Despite our imperfections and the taints of our sins, He wanted us to be redeemed and to be purified from those sins and be reunited with Him.

And that is precisely the essence of Advent and Christmas, the former which is the representation of the great longing of mankind to be reunited with their Lord and God, and also the waiting and expectation for the fulfilment of God’s promise, which is fully completed by Christmas and its true meaning, that is the birth and the arrival of the long promised Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, the One Who would free all of God’s people from their bondage to sin and to the forces of Satan.

Sin are like chains that have put us enslaved and under the domain of the prince of this world, that is Satan. And because of sin, we have been corrupted and made unworthy to be with God, because He is all good and no sin can stand in His presence and stay unjudged. Through sin, Satan had had dominion and power over us, but not anymore, since deliverance have been shown to us through Christ Who came to break us free from our bondage and chains of sin.

Through Mary, our Lord has been born into this world, taking up our very form and our very essence and flesh, the Almighty God taking up the mere and humble flesh of Man, for a singular purpose, that is for the salvation of us all, that all of us may be liberated from the sins that have gripped us since the early days of creation. And as I mentioned earlier before, God did not just do things without any reason. He did all these because of His infinite and everlasting love for each and every one of us.

And that is the aspect we are focusing on this Sunday, the aspect of Love. We have celebrated the aspects of Hope, Peace and Joy thus far, that is the hope, peace, and joy that Christ has brought into the world with His coming, but Love is the greatest of them all. Without God’s love, there would be no Christmas, and without His love, He would not have created us in the first place, and He would not have given us all a chance to be redeemed and to be forgiven from our sins.

God’s love has given us the opportunity to break away from the slavery of sin and death, and by His sacrifice on the cross, made with the ultimate and selfless love He has for each and everyone of us, He has absolved us from the burdens of the original sins of Adam and Eve, giving us a new hope and a new joy in our hearts, that while once we mankind had to face death and suffering because of our sins and iniquities, the consequences for our rebellion, now we have a new hope in our God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we have to reflect and think about how we have lived our lives. God has been so generous with His love for us, but have we been generous with our love for Him? That is one very important question that we need to ask ourselves as we approach the celebration of Christmas. We should not come into Christmas without understanding this important tenet about Christmas, and without properly knowing what Christmas is truly about.

Many of us go through Christmas as if it is just another time and moment to celebrate and rejoice without stopping to reflect and to find time to think about what it is we are rejoicing about. We revel in the festive season and rejoice with our family members, our relatives and with our friends, but we do so with the wrong reasons. Sometimes it is painful to see people competing with each other for the best Christmas decorations in their homes, or for the best dresses they wear to the Christmas parties, and focusing on all the material goods rather than the essence of Christmas itself, that is Christ.

It means that many of us have taken Christ out of Christmas, and many of us have forgotten that Christmas is truly a celebration about Christ and not about ourselves. Yes, in a way, it is a time to also celebrate about ourselves, but not for our own worldly glory and joy, but instead because of the reason that we have been saved by the love of God from certain destruction because of our sins. It is the love of God shown through Christ that we are celebrating, and we rejoice together because of that.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christmas is just one more week away, let us all see into our preparations for the celebration of Christmas and ask ourselves that very important question, that is, is Christ at the centre of our celebrations? Is He the focus of our joy and of our revelry? Or is it instead a time when we ignore Him and put Him out of the picture when it was really because of Him and His generous love that we can rejoice, knowing that we have hope in Him?

Let us all reorientate our celebrations and focus it on Christ, and indeed, let us all refocus our lives on Christ, putting Him at the very centre of our lives. From now on, let all things we do, we say and we act, be filled with the fullness of God’s love, so that through our actions, words and deeds, we may show to the world and to many people, just how loving God is to all of us.

May the Lord help us all Christians, that each of us may become the bearers and witnesses of His love that came in Christmas in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. May we all be able to share the joy of Christmas with each other and with the world, that many more will come to believe in the Lord and in His salvation. And at the same time, let us all not forget the poor and those who are unable to rejoice in this season of joy because of various reasons. Let us share our joy with them and comfort them from their sorrows with the love and joy from the Lord. May God bless us all. Amen.

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