Advent 04, Year C-2009 and Christmas
- Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. (Phil. 4:5)
They thought themselves ready for the siege (Is. 22:8-11). They had looked to the weapons in their armory; they had checked the breaches in the city and shored up its defenses. They had even gone down to Egypt for counsel and protection (Is. 30:1-7). They had done everything to be prepared, except “look to the city’s Maker, … who built it long ago” and seek his counsel (Is. 22:11; Is. 30:2). They neglected, to their own peril, the true source of their security, namely, the Lord, and his will and power.
Am I ready? As ready in humility as the tiny city and clan of Bethlehem-Ephrathah? There the unmistakable sign revealing the Messiah and Lord would be quite consistent with the insignificant ordinariness of the city and clan, namely, the finding of “an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk. 2:12). Yet shining also through ordinary baby clothes and the trough for animal fodder, a commonplace in shepherd country, should be the extraordinarily humble self-emptying of one who gives us his flesh to eat and his blood to drink.
Am I ready in the manner of the Lord’s lowly handmaid? This blessed one, who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled, said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Her obedient faith paved the way for Christ saying, “As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, O God.” And because Jesus heard and obeyed God’s counsel and will, he offered the body prepared for him, and with his self-offering came thus also the repudiation and replacement of all sacrifice and offering, holocausts and sin offerings.
Am I ready then, finally, to love the way Jesus did so greatly and so admirably, laying down his life for his friends and dying for sinners, for those who are not so lovable (Jn. 15:13; Rom. 5:7-8)? My love will surely fall very much short of Jesus’ love. But it must be effective even in its insignificance and ordinariness, a love that, though neither angelic nor eloquent instructs the poor, for instance, or goes in search of the lost sheep (cf. P. Coste, XI, 40).
Believing I am ready, I may think it is time to start singing the old English nursery rhyme, “Christmas is coming, the goose in getting fat.” It is obvious, of course, that there is neither readiness nor rhyme without, “Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat.”
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