Fourth Sunday of Advent (B)
My dear encountered couples:
On the carefully programmed Advent journey to Christmas, the Fourth Sunday belongs to Mary. This is so because Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus, necessarily involves the motherhood of Mary. However, the story of that birth is reserved for Midnight Mass, while today's gospel tells us how Mary prepared for that wonderful event by accepting the message of an angel, which meant allowing God to determine how she could be a mother and remain a virgin.
Last week I received an e-mail from a priest friend of mine with a beautiful reflection on Mary. It’s a fiction but it tells us how much Mary loves us and cares for us.
The title of the story is “Mary’s Dream.” The Blessed Mother has a dream. She dreamed she came down to earth and saw that everyone was getting ready for Jesus’ birthday. She was so excited when she saw everyone talking about it.
Everyone was shopping in the grocery stores. They were buying volumes of food for their celebrations! They were buying great pine trees to put in their living rooms! Upon these, they hung beautiful ornaments and lights. They were buying presents, at the malls, that they decorated with elaborate wrappings and put piles of presents under the tree. And this made Mary very happy.
Then, she notices that none of the presents were for her Son. There was no sign of Jesus in their homes! It was as if he had never come. How could they have forgotten Him! No one even mentioned his name! They celebrated with this heavy-set man wearing a red suit. You would think it was his birthday. They didn’t wish each other Merry Christmas but “Happy Holidays” instead. They seemed to drink too much, and some were telling raunchy jokes and gossiping about their neighbors or even their loved ones. Some even got into arguments. Mary wondered what had gone wrong. Where was the Spirit of peace that Christ had come down to earth to give his people? But then she realized, this was only a dream … Wasn’t it?
So, she went back to Heaven to talk with her son Jesus about her dreams. She told Him how sad this had made her. And Jesus said, “Mother, do not be sad. Come with me and I will show you there are always GOOD people that make me happy. There IS hope in the world and these people show good example to those who have never heard or have forgotten the good news." They came back down to earth and visited homes. They saw people with Advent candles, preparing for His birth.
They saw people celebrating with trees and presents but highlighted the birth of Jesus with beautiful Christmas Nativity scenes and prayer. They saw people who went to daily Church more frequently in preparation for his birth. And some put on small or elaborate Christmas programs honoring his birth in the stable. And they noticed that Christ did get birthday present … every time people went out of their way to feed the homeless and provide clothing and shelter. Also, when they bought toys and presents for children who would never have Christmas without their generosity.
They saw loving families who shared Christ’s love in their celebrations. They saw our military personnel, far from home taking a moment to pray and wish Jesus a Happy birthday. Jesus said, “Mother, this is what counts and will make the world a better place.”
My dear couples: As we await the birthday of our savior, how much is Jesus and Mary in your life this year? This Christmas, let us give God a most precious gift: some of our time. Let us give Him our undivided attention, a period of time in which we do nothing but open ourselves up to His presence.
Even if we think that nothing happens, something will happen. We are all so concerned about what we must do, particularly at a time when we’re so caught up in doing things. The best thing we can do is to do nothing; do nothing but simply be in God’s presence.
Think of three good things about you, three really good things. Then thank God individually and specifically those three good things. They are God’s gifts of love to you. Wouldn’t it be a nice gift to give Him your gratitude? Wouldn’t that be a nice gift to give Him for this Christmas?
There’s a hidden benefit for you in doing that. If you have an attitude of gratitude you cannot at the same time have a sour or negative disposition.
Also, you could ask God what He wants for you. Ask God to reveal what He wants to say to you, what He wants to show you or give you. That’s another wonderful, precious gift to give God.
He isn’t interested in a lot of memorized prayers, or a list of things you want Him to do for you. He’s more interested in having you simply give Him your inner self, your undivided and uncluttered attention, your loving presence to Him.
When you’re with a friend, what do you want? Isn’t it simply to be with your friend? We all know that being is more important than doing; that it’s who we are that’s more important to those who care for us than what we accomplish. Well, that’s true with God, also. God has gone to great lengths, unreasonable lengths, to be your Friend. This Christmas, why not let Him?