Fourth Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24
Saint Stephen/Saint John Baptist de la Salle December 18, 2022
Our Advent is about to come to its end.
I believe that we all agree that Advent is our time of waiting, but waiting for what, well I'm not really certain. I would guess, if I asked, people would say we wait for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the coming of the Christ child into our world, the appearance of God among us. This is the acceptable time, spoken of by the Holy Spirit ages ago, the day of salvation, peace and reconciliation, the great season of Advent. However, there is a lot to do, almost too much, to ready ourselves for what is to come. As hard as I try, I'm just never ready. Growing up in Massachusetts we were always hoping for a "White Christmas." We were rarely disappointed. As a family we always waited until December 21st, my father's birthday, to put up and decorate our Christmas Tree. I never gave much thought to the decorations in our Church, but I was never happy, that we, as a family, had to wait so long to decorate for Christmas. So, it seemed, at least to me, Advent was a time to wait before putting up our Christmas tree, celebrating Christmas and tearing open the gifts I would receive. Advent is short enough as it is, only four brief weeks. After all, the central theme of Advent is waiting, is it not? So, my reflection on this issue has led me to see the Fourth Sunday of Advent as an introduction to the feast of Christmas itself. Therefore, the Scriptures point us toward the Birth of Jesus before it has even happened. We do this because the Season of Christmas lasts until the Feats of the Epiphany. The one phrase from Scripture that identifies the final Sunday of Advent is this: "Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, 'God is with us.
I am convinced that this phrase speaks to the deepest feelings we can experience. This is what all people had been waiting for. Something or someone, who will give meaning to our life. Someone or something, who will give us a reason for being on this planet. Something or someone, who will give us a reason to rise from sleep each day and set ourselves to the work of making Jesus present in our world. All generations in history have had this desire. All people, throughout all time, sense that there must be meaning to our life. We want to be certain that we are not simply creatures, living from day to day, without purpose or reason. We who are now Christians have a long history in our search for God. Our roots reach back into Scripture where, today, we heard the great Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah makes the prediction about "Immanuel," that God is with us. Little did Isaiah realize that this "Immanuel" would be God's Son, Jesus the Christ, Son of the Most High God, Savior of the World. Little did Isaiah realize that this "Immanuel" would finally help human beings understand how precious we are to God. We, of course, know this "Immanuel," as Jesus, Son of God, Child of Mary and Joseph. So, if you were to ask me what I consider the most important phrase in all of Scripture, I would say, "God is with us.' God has been with us for all eternity, even before we were formed in our mother's womb. God is with us, and has always been with us, though we were not completely aware of it. It did take Jesus, to come among us, to remind us that it's all right to be human. From that point on it has been up to us to discover God in all things human and earthly. It is Jesus, who makes getting up every morning well worth the effort. Praying for you all, in advance, a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.