REFLECTION ON THE READINGS – 4th Sunday of Advent (C)
I COME TO DO YOUR WILL (Readings: Micah 5:1-4; Heb. 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45)
On this last Sunday of Advent, we are being introduced to the spirit of Christmas. It is the coming of Jesus, the Son of God, who came to fulfil the Will of God. The 2nd reading says it: “This is what Christ said on coming into the world: … God, here I am! I am coming to do your will.” This is even predicated on the knowledge that God did not want those supposed religious actions by which humanity has for long sought to please him – Sacrifices, oblation and others.
In the Blessed Virgin Mary again, we see one who fulfils the Will of God. She had told the angel, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let your will be fulfilled in me. Elizabeth in today’s gospel resonates it: “Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made by God will be fulfilled.”
On the verge of entry into the joyful mood of Christmas, the church must call humanity the main reason why we celebrate Christmas, and that is the reason why Christ came. He came to do the will of God.
In a time when Christmas means many things for many people, the last aspect of our preparation will be to keep our minds focused on what Christmas really means and implies. If there is anything we are going to do that will either exclude or run contrary to the will of God; that too will run contrary to the meaning of Christmas. As we enter the Christmas season, what is the most pressing will of God for our individual lives and our world? The message of the angel at the dawn of the first Christmas still holds relevant for our context: Glory to God in the high and on earth peace to people of goodwill. Can we say that peace is the will of God for us in Nigeria and our Igbo land? Indeed, in God’s will is our peace. Also, our joy is in the will of God.
What is the joy of Christmas if we cannot have peace, what is the joy of Christmas if everyone is afraid of the other? What is the joy of Christmas if some part of Imo indigenes cannot go to Christmas because of incessant attacks and harassment? What is the joy of Christmas when some are in sorrow because of what others have done to them?
Let all conclude the advent preparation with a promise of obedience to the will of God and with a promise of going out to do the will of God.
*SUNDAY GOSPEL READING*(Luke 1:39-44)
*THE CHRISTMAS VISIT; LESSON FROM MARY AND ELIZABETH*
Today is the last Sunday before the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ’s Nativity. For this great celebration, travelling has intensified, plans for Christmas visits are made. The spirit of the celebration has set in.
We call to mind today that we are awaiting a visit of the Son of God. We can’t wait again for the real celebration to begin, to enter the Christmas season. Yes, we are desperate for God to come to dwell among us. The hunger can be related to that of children in boarding schools wishing to be visited by their parents.
In our junior Seminary days, visiting days were longed for, prayed about, greatly anticipated indeed. The visit often took place when we were in serious need, unspeakable lack and empty cupboard type of hunger.
The above situation explains why we appreciated such a visit so much. When one is visited the receptionist comes to announce that he has been visited. It was a great joy, it used to fill the visit with a joyful sense of pride. Others watched with expectations. It used to be a sad thing if one is not visited on a visiting day. The visit carries along with them interesting packages ranging from provisions, especially cooked mummy’s food and pocket money.
*SIGNIFICANCE OF GOD’S VISIT AND MARY’S*
The world before the coming of Christ was starving. The world before the coming of Christ was hungry. The world without Christ was in the crisis of Original Sin, in the mayhem of its being thrown out of the paradise, in the unfortunate situation of not hearing the sound of God’s feet and the voice of Him calling.
That was because of the fall. Some students were denied visitations in the boarding schools because they failed in examinations. Man failed, man fell. Such students started receiving goodies and visits as soon as they improved in their performance. The man never improved. Yet God decided to visit Him from above.
Those Angels positioned to keep guard at the Paradise Gates were once again sent, to bring open heaven. God seeing the man in such a pitiable state opened took the initiative to come to dwell. Alleluia!
Mary took in by taking Him (The Word) in.
*MARY AROSE FOR A CHRISTMAS VISIT*
Having been made Mother, Mary set out and went quickly to see Elizabeth. She knew her plight. She didn’t visit to leave immediately but to stay for some time. She must have carried a lot of goodies. God had deposited a lot of good things in the hands of Our Lady for your sake, for your joy indeed. She couldn’t keep the joy alone. She must share the joy. She decides to make Christ for the masses, starting with those who awaited prayerfully, virtuously and zealously for Him. Elizabeth came to Mary’s mind immediately. Elizabeth represents each one of us looking up to hear the knock of the August visitor from above.
*GO WITH GOODNESS*
Our Blessed Mother travelled to Elizabeth with virtues, not vices, with joy, not sorrow. Christmas is a time for travelling. What are you travelling with? Bad will? Animosity? Troubles? Will your people at home be happy that you’re coming home? May your visit be like Mary’s; May you be visited with joy like Elizabeth. May God remember your visiting days. May He come to stay with you today and every day. When God visits your barrenness there must be fruitfulness, when He visits you crying He must make you smile. When God visits you, you must be blessed. He will greet you with messages that will make you leap for joy. He will visit you with a visitation that will make you ask: Do I deserve this? Yes the Lord insists that it is an honour. May you be honoured by a divine visitation, a visit of joy, healing, peace, love prosperity, open doors.
*THE PROPER DISPOSITION TO RECEIVE THE LORD*
Elizabeth received Mary with open arms and happiness. They shared their experiences. They assisted each other.
These are great lessons. Those who will be receiving their loved one’s, family members and kinsmen this season should do so with holy hospitality.
Our sons and daughters travelling down to celebrate Christmas should be received well. They should not be kidnapped, they should not face robbery attacks, they should not be killed. They should not be greeted with troubles, wickedness, terrifying images etc.
The Government should endeavour not to frustrate those coming to celebrate the joy of the Lord’s Nativity with bad roads, unimaginable price of goods and services, intimidation etc.
Let us make room for God carried by our Blessed Mother in our lives, in our hearts and our homes.
May God bless His word in our hearts.
LET US PRAY:
Oh God, we are waiting, calling and inviting You to visit us. Help us to celebrate the coming feast of Your Son’s birthday this year with the right spirit. Protect those travelling this season. May we be blessings to those we meet and may they as well be blessings unto us. Grant these prayers through Christ our Lord. Amen
*Rev Fr Julian O Ekeh