The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A - 22nd December 2013

For the last three weeks we have been hearing two things. On the one hand, we have listened to the prophecies from the Old Testament that speak about the coming of the Messiah; on the other hand, we have heard episodes from the life of Jesus in which he has performed actions that are associated with the Messiah. The message is clear – the Messiah that you have been waiting for has come, and he is Jesus of Nazareth. Today, the fourth Sunday of Advent, we are presented with the final piece in that jigsaw. Isaiah tells us that the virgin will conceive and will give birth to a son, and Matthew tells us the story of how that happened. All that is missing now is the actual birth.

On this fourth Sunday of Advent we find ourselves in a sort of in-between space. It is like one of those television series where the tension mounts and then we find ourselves being told that it is: “To be continued...”

As any child will be able to tell you, there are only three sleeps left until Christmas. We are coming very close to Bethlehem. Our journey is almost at an end. At the beginning of Advent we heard about how this was going to be a time of preparation. How has that preparation been for us? As we draw near to the crib, as we come to meet God, how do we feel? 

Remember, the crib is only a metaphor for our definitive meeting with God. Our preparation for Christmas is really our preparation for meeting Christ who will return. As we walk those last few steps towards Bethlehem we are calling to mind those last few steps as we walk towards that meeting with Jesus.

Are we full of joy and excitement as we take those steps? Are we, perhaps, a little bit nervous or uncomfortable? Are there things in our lives that might make that meeting with Jesus difficult? Are we, maybe, carrying hurts or resentments, or anger, or fear that might make be weighing us down?  Are our hearts so full of sadness, or loneliness, or worries that it is difficult to make space for happiness or rejoicing?
Whatever our particular circumstances may be there is no need to be concerned. God who comes to meet us has already come, as a baby. There is no need to be afraid of babies. Babies don’t distinguish between good and bad, small or big, happy or sad – babies embrace all those who would embrace them.

To draw near to God, all that is needed is that we want to. 

And what should we bring as gifts? Only ourselves. That is all that is needed. God who chose to embrace humanity didn’t only embrace certain aspects of being human. No, God became fully human and embraced being fully human, so as we come to the crib we bring ourselves – smiles and tears, lights and shadows, warts and all – knowing that that is how God loves us - as we are, not as we could or might be. Our meeting God is not an interview, it is a welcome home to the home where we always belong and where we are always wanted.

The prayer of the last of these Advent days is one which asks something very special – as we prepare to embrace the child of Bethlehem, we pray that we can allow ourselves to be embraced by that same child. As we go forward to meet the one who is love, that we can allow ourselves to be loved.

Article posted on 22nd of December 2013

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