Sunday, 24 December 2017 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, we celebrate the fourth and the last Sunday of the season of Advent, the last one before Christmas, which happens to be just tomorrow. I hope that all of us have been using this precious season of Advent, which the Church had established as a time of preparation and recollection, in order to get ourselves ready for the worthy and meaningful Christmas joy.

On this Sunday we are focusing on the last of the four aspects of Advent, as part of our reflection on what Christmas is truly about. We have gone through the aspect of hope, peace and joy, and now finally we embrace the love that is coming with Christmas. Love is the most important of all aspects of Christmas, simply because Christmas is a celebration of true love, God’s love which He gave us through Jesus Christ.

We received this ultimate gift of God’s love, as we remember always the famous phrase from the Gospel of St. John, ‘God so loved the world, that He gave us His only Son, that all those who believe Him, will not perish but have eternal life’. This reminds us that our Christmas joy is caused by the love of God which was so great and was so generously given to us, that while we might have once been lost in the darkness, and without hope, now because of this, we have a new hope.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as mentioned in the first reading today about the story between king David of Israel and the prophet Nathan, God Himself has dwelled among His people, first in the House which the son and heir of king David, namely king Solomon, built in Jerusalem. But through Christmas, God made Himself present in the flesh, in the tangible body of Man, for Jesus Christ Our Lord, born into the world two millennia ago, was Son of God and Son of Man.

And this truth was revealed as the Good News which the Lord brought to His people, announcing the coming of His salvation and His everlasting love, which He has poured down on us in its fullness in Christ. He is the Love of God made Man, the Divine Word Incarnate, by Whom all of us have been created, out of love, and through Him also, God willed to save all of us mankind. And God did this in the most amazing of ways, not through might and miracles, but through the giving of Himself in love.

For it is this wonderful and amazing mystery of God’s love which He showed us by the incarnation of His Son, and dwelling in this world, that we celebrate this Christmas. The proof of His love is truly real and concrete, for as we should know, Christmas itself cannot be separated from what happens in Easter, and by that extension, what happens during the week of the Passion, suffering and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why, for us to be able to appreciate the meaning of Christmas and God’s love, we must spend time to reflect on what the Lord had done for us.

Let us look at the manger, which is always at the centre of the Christmas displays. The manger is the earthly throne of Our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Baby born of His mother Mary, not in a palace, not in a rich man’s house, but inside a dirty and cramped stable for animals, for sheep and horses, for goats and cows, but not fit for a man, less so for a King. And Jesus is not merely just any king, but the One True King, King of all kings and Master of the Universe. He is the Lord over all of us, over all the mightiest among mankind.

Yet, He willingly lowered Himself and emptied Himself, allowing Himself to assume the appearance and the nature of a man, one of His created beings, that through that act, He might fulfil the singular mission entrusted to Him by His Father. He was born with a single purpose, and that purpose was made clear in its due time, as the cross of Christ. He bore that cross willingly, putting upon Himself all of our faults, our disobedience, and all of our sins and wickedness.

He endured all of that to be our lamb of sacrifice, the perfect Lamb offered to God, the perfect Gift for us mankind. His Precious Body and Blood alone is worthy to redeem all of us from our sins and from all of our defilements, that kept us separated from God and His love. But in order to do that, He had to suffer greatly, tortured and scourged, and had to be pierced by nails and spears, and lifted up on the cross to die a most agonising death.

All of these are proofs of God’s ultimate love for each one of us. He Himself said that there is no greater love than for someone to die or to give his life for a friend. And that was exactly what He has done for each and every one of us. He has given us His life, and He gave it all for our sake. He is indeed Our God and Our King, and yet, amongst all the other kings and rulers of this world, none of them treat their servants in this manner.

Yes, God loves us so much, that as He Himself said, I no longer call you servants, but I call you friends. He has loved us so much, that through the very significant act of Him assuming our form of Man, He has united us all to Himself, and make us all, more than just servants, but friends, and even more so, as we all know, through baptism, each and every one of us as Christians have been made to be God’s own sons and daughters.

He has given us this great and exceptional grace, again because of His love for us. And if He has given us such a great love, then should we not do the same? All of us are called to love, just as God has loved us first. First of all, of course we have to love the Lord Our God with all of our hearts, with all of our strength and capabilities. That is why we must focus ourselves on the Lord this Christmas, because Christmas is indeed about Him, all of the love which He has shown us, and through which He has made everything possible for us, to hope once again for eternal life.

But we are also called to love one another, in the same manner as God has loved us. After all, if He is Our Father, then all of us are brothers and sisters to one another, having the same Father in heaven. Then, how about if we practice that in our Christmas celebrations? When we discern about love in today’s Advent reflection, let us all look upon our own actions. Have we loved our brethren and showed concern and care for those who are in need?

Love is something that is easily said but difficult to be done. That is because love requires commitment and the giving of oneself. And true love should be selfless and life-giving, generous and compassionate. The best way for us to love, is to seek those around us, even within our own families and amongst our friends, and also among others we encounter in our respective lives, who have not been loved, those who have been ostracised, and those who are not as fortunate or blessed as we are.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in order to make our Christmas celebration a more meaningful one, let us all therefore strive that this Christmas, and from now onwards, we may go forth and show our love to our neighbours and brethren in need. Let us all show care and concern for those who are in need, no longer ignoring the pleas of the poor, the weak, the downtrodden, the unloved and those who are lonely. Let us show them the love of God, through our actions, that by doing so, we ourselves will draw closer to God’s love, and eventually will find our way to His eternal glory.

May the Lord bless each and every one of us, and may He also help us to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas, that is love, God’s love for us mankind. May He help us to share that love we have received with each other, that we may love our fellow men and women ever more generously that we may draw ever closer to Him, and eventually be worthy to receive His glorious inheritance. May we be ready to rejoice for Christ’s wondrous coming in Christmas day tomorrow. Amen.

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