WITH ST. MARY'S
THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Be open to the will of God and He will be made present.
FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
We are completely powerless without the grace of God. This is the final message we receive in the season of Advent before the birth of Christ at Christmas. From the very beginning of human history up to the present age, we are constantly finding ourselves subject to the power of sin, either in our own free will or in struggles with our neighbors. The only way we can possibly fix this is not by any human means; we are only capable of overcoming sin and its effects when we completely give ourselves over to God, conform our will to His, and say yes to whatever He asks of us. In return, He merely makes His presence known among us. Throughout Advent, we have been preparing ourselves for the eventual manifestation of God in our midst. Today, we are finally told by God Himself that He is with us.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
What does it look like for God to be in our midst? In this Sunday’s readings, we are given three examples of how God makes His presence known among us, first in His promise, second in His followers and in His Church, and third in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, God made man. In the first reading, the Lord speaks to Ahaz, the king of Judah (a descendant of David and an ancestor of Christ himself), and promises that He will give him a sign of his protection against his enemies. In his foolishness and under the impression that he is not worthy of such a sign, Ahaz turns down what God has to offer him and instead tries to depend on human strength. God, however, is insistent on this gift, though it will take hundreds of years for this gift to manifest: the sign is a child born to a virgin, who is given the name Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Ahaz would have understood this to be a child born of his own time, but Emmanuel did not come into the world until Christ. God offers this promise to Ahaz despite the initial rejection; this is analogous to the way in which we continuously fall into sin, yet God is insistent on remaining available for us to be forgiven. Those of us who know we are forgiven and try to share the presence of God with others are actively living the Christian lifestyle; Paul tells us in the second reading that we, these Christians who remain faithful to acknowledging the presence of Christ, are the actual body of Christ manifested in his Church. We are the presence of Christ to the world in our faithfulness. God is in the world and with His sinful people through us, the Church. Finally, we are led after these four weeks of preparation to the moment when the promise is fulfilled in the acceptance of Mary. Mary assented to her calling and said yes when all other humans (like Ahaz) said no. In that moment, with her words, “may it be done unto me according to His word,” Jesus Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, soon to be born to a virgin, fulfilling the promise made immediately after the Fall of man. Finally, God is with us.
Family activity to do at home: Throughout the season of Advent, families should maintain their own Advent wreath in their homes so that the focus of the season may be properly oriented to preparing for the coming of Christ. It's an exciting thing, especially for children, because it enables them to count down the days until Christmas in a truly holy manner. The lessons attached to the lighting of the Advent candles on the wreath can also be an opportunity for families to remain in this mindset of preparation.Throughout the season of Advent, follow these family activities so that you can know how to maintain the prayers involved in the Advent wreath with your family.
For this fourth week of Advent, sing the famous Adventide hymn that all of us should know - O Come, O Come Emmanuel. This is a song that is most appropriately sung on this final week of Advent before Christmas, and is a wonderful prayer to be sung at the lighting of the fourth candle on your Advent wreath at home with your family. Full text of the song can be found in the link below.