Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2012 Reflection is based on the readings from Micah 5:1-4, Psalm 80, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-44 By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD, Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus Franciscans of Divine Mercy Divine Mercy Parish, Franklin, MA Independent Catholic Church of the Americas This is what Christ said, on coming into the world: “You, who wanted no sacrifice or oblation, prepared a body for me. You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin; then I said, just as I was commanded in the scroll of the book, God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.” Notice that he says first: “You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the oblations, the holocausts and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them; and then he says: Here I am! I am coming to obey your will. He is abolishing the first sort to replace it with the second. And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 10:5-10) On Tuesday we will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the ultimate sacrifice of all time. Christ came into this world, as the reading from Hebrews seems to imply, for the sole purpose of offering His human body as a sacrifice for the remission of all the sins of humankind. Christ came to fulfill, not only all the promises of the prophets, but the prayers of those who found the demands of the hierarchy of the Jewish faith to be oppressive & unreasonable. Now why would God assent to making life easier for his children? The reason is very easy to answer, because our God is an infinitely loving, caring, merciful God who desires us to love not only Him, but each other. Our God is a God of justice not oppression. God only asks of us what Christ himself told us was the greatest commandments. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with your entire mind, and your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:27) On December the 8th when we celebrated the Feast of The Immaculate Conception we were reminded of how Mary trusted the words of the Angel Gabriel and accepted the challenge to be the bearer of the promised of the ages even though she might be stoned to death because she was not married yet. The God bearer or Theotokos as the Eastern Churches call Mary trusted in God and gave of herself totally. She accepted the burdens that she faced without complaint and in that she is a model for us to follow.. When Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth whom the Angel Gabrial had told Mary was in the sixth month of her pregnancy even in her old age and having been considered baren Mary was greeted with these words.; “Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’ (Luke 1:39-44) In the reading from Micah 5:1-4 we hear; “The Lord says this; But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel; his origin goes back to the distant past, to the days of old. He will stand and feed his flock with the power of the Lord, with the majesty of the name of his God. They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land. He himself will be peace.” Christ came to earth as the greatest gift God could provide us; The Three kings from the various parts of the world that followed the star to Christ’s birthplace knew in their hearts that this baby was the greatest King of all Kings. As we proclaim in Song often, “God of God’s and King of Kings” They brought with them rare gifts to bestow upon this new born child. Today we need to ask ourselves what gift are we going to give to the Christ Child, Have we made it a priority to plan for and think of an appropriate gift from us or have we been too consumed with preparing decorations and buying presents for friends and family to give our gift to God too much thought? It is not too late; we have two days to prepare ourselves to receive the new born Christ Child into our hearts, minds and homes. Let us make a commitment to make time every day to think about and talk with God, this is what prayer is. Don’t just ask God for things, but thank God for the gifts he has given us. For myself, I do not know why he has blessed me so much. I truly feel most unworthy of all that he has given me and I cannot thank God enough. I close with this Advent Prayer and the wish that God will look mercifully upon us and our ministry and grant us the ability to continue to serve Him and those who have found us with the same kind of compassion and love that Christ gave. AMEN AN ADVENT PRAYER Almighty and merciful God, we come to you this advent season to give you thanks and praise for the many gifts you provide us every day. We ask forgiveness for our transgressions and sins and promise to strive in our daily lives to live according to the way you taught us. Guide us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be more mindful of the needs of ALL your children and help us to do our part in bringing about the peace and brotherhood for all the children of God throughout the world. Help and guide us in working to bring about the promised future proclaimed by the angels on the night you were born. “Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth” We ask this in the name of our redeemer and savior, Jesus Christ, your son, whose coming among us we celebrate this Advent Season. AMEN

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