• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Friday, 20 December 2019 12:00

Fourth Sunday of Advent - 2019

Written by Fr Larry Nemer SVD

Fr Larry Nemer SVD 150

Today’s Gospel story leads us in a clear and straightforward way into the mystery of the Nativity.  Messengers from heaven, in an appearance or a dream, come to tell Mary that she has been chosen to be the mother of God by a special power emanating from God and Joseph is told in a dream not to hesitate to take this pregnant girl as his wife and to embrace the child as his own because it was the power of God that brought about Mary’s pregnancy.  No explanation is given other than making it clear that this was God’s doing and that their son will be different from other children.  They both said “yes” to the messages given, and without understanding what it meant or what it would demand they fully accepted in faith this mystery that they were being invited to take part in.  It is this mystery that we are invited to enter into with faith every Christmas.

For the first 350 years of its existence the Catholic Community did not have any liturgical feast to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  But when Constantine, the Roman Emperor, became a Christian he invited the Catholic Community to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th.  By that time in history there were no solid indications in the sources of when exactly Jesus might have been born – winter, spring, summer, or autumn.  However, before becoming a Christian he had worshipped the Sun God and their special feast was in winter when the sun would begin to “return” for longer periods of time to the northern hemisphere.  He thought it appropriate to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Light of the world, on that day.

However it took another thousand years for the feast to become the popular celebration we know today.  The Church already celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany in early January.  This was a feast that the people of the empire would culturally understand.  When a new emperor was born he was brought out to the people – it was his epiphany, his “showing” – his kingship was publicly presented to and accepted by the people.  The Church very early on had a feast to celebrate the public presentation of Jesus as the Son of God, the King of all creation, as they were seen in three events narrated in the Gospels – the adoration of the three kings, the baptism by John the Baptist (This is my beloved Son), and the miracle of wine at the wedding feast in Cana (Mary said: Do whatever he tells you).  The emphasis in these celebrations was on the divinity of Christ.  And so the feast was celebrated in grand style with gold, silver and jewels in abundance.

In the early 1200s Francis of Assisi realized that the poor people in the countryside did not appreciate that there was another side to this mystery = the poverty into which Jesus was born.  So he built a crib with Joseph and Mary surrounded by animals and shepherds with the baby Jesus in an animal’s manger because there was “no room for them” in the inn.  Angels announced the good news of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds in the field, in some ways the poorest of the poor.  It was a star (and not a royal decree) that brought kings to worship him.  This was not the way the people thought a God-king would be born.  But Francis wanted them to experience the mystery of the Nativity in a way thy could identify with.  God loved them so much that God wanted to be one of them, even in their poverty.  God was not insisting on a status of power and wealth but was willing to be weak and vulnerable and poor as so many of them were.

It is an amazing mystery that theologians continue to explore, but in the end we stand in front of the crib and are amazed that this is the way God wanted us to know how much God love us.  No wonder that our hearts are filled with joy and gratitude during this Christmas season.

Last modified on Friday, 20 December 2019 12:17