Fourth Sunday in Advent - December 23rd
As we get to the end of our liturgical journey to Christmas, our readings make us question how we are preparing. Sometimes we set our sites not on Mary and Elizabeth but too easily on modern Marthas and that unachievable to do list.
Today’s readings are all about hope and faith, two virtues that get the short end of the virtue stick, ranking way behind charity.
We listen to the hopes of previous generations awaiting the Messiah in Micah. Micah foretold that from Bethlehem (and not from the Big Apple) would come the ruler in Israel.
‘He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock…. For now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace.’ This was written as hope for what was to come. This was fulfilled in Jesus who is peace.
In Hebrew 10, Jesus said: “Behold I come to do your will, O God.” His mother, Mary, had already said that to God.
In the preparation for Jesus’ coming, we see how faith and hope changed the course of history. How different the story would have been if Joseph or Mary lacked faith and hope, or if Mary’s family disowned her and even if the custom of stoning unwed pregnant young women had gone on. Elizabeth greeted Mary with amazing words of faith and hope for their sons. ‘Blessed are you who believed, that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.’
Today brings us within 24 hours of Christmas eve. It’s the countdown now of our liturgical journey to the Christ child. This is a time when it is easy to grow anxious over the impending celebration. All perspective can be lost in the whirlwind to the finish, especially for us procrastinators out there. Those awesome presents we intended to get or make for others will too quickly be forgotten. Our presence and loving words with each other will be more important in the end.
Let us have the hope for peace on earth and peace in our hearts and bring these to our Christmas celebration. Let us reflect on the best words to share with each other over the holidays to further that peace. May our actions be instruments of peace and fountains of hope. May our faith allow us to do God’s will.
Helen Horstmann, M.D.
Villanova Board of Trustees