4th Sunday of Advent - Being Bearers of Christ
We are close to Christmas and the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent clearly tells us how close we are. This part of Advent shifts our attention from the "last things" we heard about during the first part of Advent and last week's proclamation by John the Baptist that one is coming who will baptize with water and the Spirit. Today the announcement is about shedding fear and rejoicing at the birth of the Lord.
Our preparation for Christmas focuses on being ready for Christ to come again. But we must remember that his coming in Bethlehem and his coming at the end of time are not isolated events, because he comes into our lives again and again every day.
Advent and Christmas invite us to dwell no so much on the Infant in the Crib, but the adult Jesus, baptized by John, anointed by the Spirit, living in a world of turmoil and then identifying Himself fully with humanity's sinful, guilt-ridden condition. He stands with all human beings who yearn for a radical change of heart and life, who crave liberation from the power of evil, who seek release from all forms of oppression - religious, political, social and economic. He stands as the only One who can take away our fear and make clear our vision.
The infant Jesus silently proclaimed this message by the circumstances of His birth - poverty, powerlessness, and simplicity. But it is the adult Jesus who lives the message, challenging political and religious systems, embracing a radical poverty of spirit, and reaching out with compassion and liberation for all the oppressed.
It is He who stirs the profound longings in all of our hearts for true freedom, justice and peace - for ourselves and for all of our brothers and sisters across the world. He invites us to commit ourselves more fully to these Gospel values. He begs us not to trivialize our resolve by being satisfied with token and occasional gestures of Christianity, and He invites us to rededicate ourselves to follow His example more faithfully, and to strive even more forcefully to eliminate the hoarding, climbing and controlling in our own lives and in the world at large.
The human family needs, as never before, to hear the message of Advent, to free us from our fears and to give us direction. But more than that, we need to recognize and respond to the constant invitation of Jesus, God-with-us, to join Him in a new world community of shared love, peace and justice.
Like Mary, we are to be the bearers of the Christ - for our bodies are the only places where he may live on this earth. We are the body of Christ - when we let Christ dwell within us, and when we share Christ with others, He will be with us always. By opening our lives to Christ, we, like Mary, are blessed among all men and women. By sharing Christ, we, like Mary, take part in the greatest, most wonderful thing the world has ever known.
But if we don't take hold of our time and attitude, even the holy can pass us by. We can miss the true message of what we confront in the stable at Bethlehem: a human become divine, spirit become flesh, time become eternity, salvation become nigh.
The spirit of Advent and Christmas is a mirror in which we see reflected the very best that life can become. Through our faith and courage, we can help each other to put away our fears, to move from darkness to light, to begin to hear again the words of life. We can reach out to support - by the strength of our love and concern - those whose hands are feeble, whose knees are weak. Through our witness to God's love, so many who are crippled by doubt and despair might be able to walk again with courage and energy and new life.
Let us continue this mission each day of our lives; let us be God's holy people, and faithful disciples of Jesus; let us be light in darkness, peacemakers and life-givers, in every aspect of our lives. Only then can the words of Elizabeth echo through our voices: "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."