Fr. Wilson Andrade is the pastor of St. Ann Parish and the Native Peoples’ Mission, both located in Toronto.
There is a story of a typical last-minute Christmas shopper, a mother who was running furiously from store-to-store. Suddenly she realized that her three-year-old son was no longer holding her hand. In a panic, she looked up and down the busy street only to find him with his little nose pressed flat against a frosty window. He was gazing at a manger scene.
Hearing his mother’s near hysterical call to him, he turned and shouted with innocent glee: “Look Mommy! It’s Jesus! Baby Jesus in the hay!”
With obvious indifference to his joy and wonder, she impatiently pulled him away saying, “We don’t have time for that!”
We all have been affected by the pandemic this year. The Advent season and Christmas preparations have become a time of waiting: We are waiting for normalcy. We wait and wonder when will this end, when will we get out of lockdown and quarantine, when will we be able to meet our family, our friends, have get-togethers, travel, go shopping, enjoy outdoor events and go back to church?
This year, we suddenly find that Christmas is already here. We all feel that “it is not like before.”
This Christmas IS something different – may be this will be a year of personal quiet time or a time of celebration with only close family members – but I believe this is a time of spiritual awakening.
Advent is also the season of hope, so let’s not lose hope during this pandemic. Rather let us trust in God’s ever-abiding mysterious presence among us, a meaningful celebration of the Incarnation of God in His Son, Emmanuel – God with us.
Based on the Fourth Sunday of Advent’s liturgy and the Word of God, I would like to reflect on three words: Consultation, Covenant and Christ.
We live in a technologically advanced “all knowing” world, where everything seems to happen with a click of a button. Yet the Word of God invites us to take time and to consult.
In the first reading we hear the story of the well-established, victorious King David seeking advice from his trusted prophet, Nathan. The prophet spends time reflecting, praying and listening to God before he makes his final prophesy.
In the beautiful annunciation story that we hear in today’s Gospel, we marvel at the dialogue and consultation between the Angel Gabriel and Mary. She is perplexed, pondering and pursuing the angel’s message before she gives her final acceptance. In her humility she says: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”
Let this Advent be a time for us to pray and reflect. To seek daily advice and guidance to become more spiritually mature so we can live our Christian calling to love. Consultation opens the door to co-operation, collaboration and a covenantal relationship.
Consultation becomes a reality and confirmed when a covenant is made and kept. In the psalm we heard that God made the covenant with His chosen one with the promise “my covenant will stand firm.”
In the first reading we heard the Davidic Covenant where God makes a covenant with David that God will “raise up his offspring … to establish his kingdom.”
The Angel Gabriel recalls this covenant made with King David by saying to Mary that the child born through her “will be called the Son of the Most High and the Lord God will give to him the throne of King David.”
These Advent and Christmas seasons are the celebration of God’s covenant made real in the birth of Jesus. The birth of Jesus allows us to enter into a covenantal relationship with God and become His children.
The birth of Jesus Christ is the epicenter of Christmas. Without Christ we lose the true meaning of God’s covenantal relationship with us. Everything we do for ourselves or for others (in our family or community celebrations and even in our spiritual or charitable activities) should not lose focus on Jesus Christ. Just as Pope Benedict XVI said when blessing a Christmas tree in 2012: “The tree should show the path to Christ.”
Everything we do, the songs we listen to, the messages we send, the decorations we put up, the gifts we give, the donations we make, the meals we eat and the spiritual activities that we love to participate in should show the path to Jesus. As the poet Alexander Pope asked: “What do I profit if Jesus is born in thousands of cribs all over the world during this Christmas but is not born in my heart?”
Christmas Is Time to Celebrate Jesus Christ
His birth in itself is the great joy, the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy, a confirmation of divine covenant and a beginning of our human redemption. This is real “Good news and great joy to all the world: Today is born our saviour, Christ the Lord.”
This sacred time is not a passing event of a secular culture filling us with the temporary joys of shining lights on an artificial tree or the empty promises of marketing tags or expensive gifts without true love. Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of Christ – the true light that comes from God, the fulfilment of divine covenant for our salvation and the receiving of the true gift from God – The birth of Our Saviour and Our Lord.
So, let us celebrate Emmanuel – God-with-us!
O Come Divine Messiah – fill us with your Light, your Joy and your Love. Amen.