December 22, 2013 - Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
In just a few days, we will celebrate an event of long ago. This is really our last chance to pause and reflect before Christmas arrives.
It is a welcomed, needed pause in the midst of our hectic and noisy last minute Christmas preparations.
We expend lots of effort making preparations for the secular side of Christmas. But how much effort do we make trying to touch the sacredness and holiness of Christmas?
Holiness seems to attract us. It seems to catch our attention.
We are instinctively drawn to what is holy.
That’s why we love Pope Francis so much.
He shows us, by his actions, what it means to be holy.
We want to discover for ourselves the secret of this inner force that attracts us.
Paul, in the second reading, says to all the beloved who belong to Jesus Christ (that’s us):
We are called to a spirit of holiness; we are called to be holy.
During this Advent season, we have met three biblical characters who are holy: John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus and Joseph the husband of Mary.
John the Baptist is holy. His holiness attracts our attention. He is the prophet crying out, “Prepare the way.”
John spends his entire life waiting in darkness for the light, Christ our light, to come. He humbly points away from himself to the light.
He knows his mission. His holiness and his power to attract us all come from God.
His voice is prophetic. His voice is the voice of God.
His yes to be a prophet is a yes of humility and holiness.
Mary the mother of Jesus is holy. Her holiness attracts us.
She is the model of holiness.
She was chosen by God to be the fitting vessel through which God’s son was to become human.
It is her son who makes her holy. Her son is the reason why she was conceived in perfect grace.
That’s why Mary’s yes is so important. It is a yes of obedience, a mark of holiness. I will be obedient and do your will.
Joseph, the husband of Mary, is not to be forgotten.
He is holy. His holiness attracts us.
He connects us to the real humanness of Jesus’ birth.
Joseph knew absolutely nothing of what lay ahead when he accepted his pregnant bride. How many of us would accept a pregnant bride not knowing what to expect?
Joseph does what the angel commands. He listens to God.
He makes the right decision even though it is a difficult one.
What courage. What holiness. He acts bravely, contrary to what is socially acceptable.
Not only that, he serves as the foster father of Jesus.
We cannot underestimate the impact a father has on a son.
Jesus displays such intimacy with God the Father in heaven.
He must have learned from Joseph how a father and son can be intimate.
Joseph says yes to an angel who appears in a dream.
He discerns the right path by listening to what God wants.
His yes is a yes of remarkable faith, a mark of holiness.
John the Baptist, Mary the mother of God, and Joseph her faithful husband all allowed God to lead them.
And unexpected, wonderful things happened. They became holy.
We can be like them. If not by dramatic, prophetic actions, then certainly by the way we quietly go about our lives, our kindness, care, forgiveness, concern, compassion, intimacy and love.
These are quiet things but effective messages that point to a divine source of power at work in our lives, a power that transforms us into Sons and Daughters of the Most High, a power that makes us holy.
This Fourth Sunday of Advent calls us to holiness, to look to John and Mary and Joseph as models of holiness.
They each said yes when God’s plan was revealed to them.
Do we say yes to God’s plan when it is revealed to us? Are we even looking for it to be revealed?
Do we want to know what God’s plan is for us? Do we listen for God’s voice or is it drowned out by all our wants and wishes?
It’s not too late to say yes to God. But time is running out.