Theme: WHO IS JESUS CHRIST? WHAT DOES HE DO? HOW DO WE PREPARE FOR HIS COMING?
- Isaiah 7:10-14
- Psalm 23:1-6. R. vv. 7. 10
- Romans 1:1-7
- Matthew 1:18-24
Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent. The word “Advent” is from the Latin word “Adventus” meaning “Coming” or “Arrival”. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!
Jesus Christ came 2,000 years ago in Memory, Jesus Christ continues to come in the Liturgy, the Sacraments, the Eucharist, and in every Christmas in Mystery, and Jesus Christ will come at the end of time in Majesty!
Jesus Christ came 2,000 years ago and died and rose from the dead and gave the Holy Spirit. Today he continues to come to us in the Liturgy and in every Christmas in the Holy Spirit. And Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in glory when his Holy Spirit would have sanctified all! There will not be a 3rd coming of Jesus Christ! Everything will be fulfilled and completed in the second coming of Jesus Christ!
The 3 comings of Jesus Christ in Memory, in Mystery, and in Majesty may be different in time and space, but it is the same Jesus Christ who comes and the preparation for the 3 comings are the same, that is, we have to pray, to repent and convert, to go to confession, to love and practice charity (the Latin word “caritas” means love), to be Santa Claus for the poor, the orphaned, the aged, the sick, the children, etc., to practice justice, to share the good news of Christmas with others, to go caroling, etc..
But before we even prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, we must know who Jesus Christ is and what did he do when he came 2,000 years ago, and what will he do when he comes again at Christmas and at the end of time! We need to have different preparations for the coming of a political messiah, a lawgiver, and a loving, merciful and forgiving savior! The Church has chosen the 3 readings of today to tell us who Jesus Christ is and what did he do when he came 2,000 years ago, and what will he do when he comes again this Christmas and at the end of time, so that we know how to prepare for his coming!
The Church has chosen the first reading from Isaiah to tell us that Jesus Christ is the grace of God and the faithfulness of God! Grace not only in the sense that King Ahaz of Judah did not deserve the sign, but also in the sense that the sign was given to him though he did not want it! Faithfulness in the sense that though King Ahaz was not faithful to God, God was faithful to him and to the promised made to David that his kingdom would last forever (2 Samuel 7:12-16)!
Ahaz was the king of Judah (Southern Kingdom) in the 8th century BC when Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Syria waged war against it. And instead of trusting in God, and depending on God, Ahaz sought help from the Assyrians. The Assyrians defeated the Israelites and the Syrians, but Judah became a vassal of Assyria, subordinated to Assyria.
The first reading tells us that God wanted to give a sign to Ahaz, but more importantly, the first reading tells us that Ahaz refused the sign, but most importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave the sign to Ahaz even when he refused it! And the sign was: ‘a young woman will give birth to a son whom she will call Emmanuel, a name which means “God is with us”!
The Church has chosen the gospel reading to tell us that Jesus Christ was born through the power of the Holy Spirit (the Holy Spirit that created the universe and the Holy Spirit that will save and sanctify the universe), not through the physical union of Joseph and Mary, and that he is the Son of God, and not the biological son of Joseph and Mary! The gospel also tells us that he was the savior of sinners, not a lawgiver. The law cannot save! Sinners are breakers of the law! But the love, mercy and forgiveness of God can save! Jesus Christ is the love, mercy and forgiveness of God! Finally the gospel tells us that the sign given to Ahaz in the first reading is fulfilled in the gospel reading! God is indeed faithfulness and grace and Jesus Christ is the grace and the faithfulness of God!
Again, the Church has chosen the second reading from the letter to the Romans to tell us that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise made to David, but more importantly, Jesus Christ is the Son of God who rose from the dead and through him we received grace and through him St. Paul received his call to be an apostle to preach the Good News to the pagans so that all may believe and be saved!
St. Paul tells us in the second reading that Jesus Christ is the descendent of David and more importantly, he is the Son of God who rose from the dead and through him we received grace and through him St. Paul received his call to preach the Good News to the pagans, so that all may believe and be saved!
The Church has told us through the 3 readings who Jesus Christ was and is and will be, and what he did and is doing and will do, and now the Church tells us what we should do to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!
The Church tells us during this time of Advent to pray, because God is the one who prepared the history of Israel from Abraham (1850 years Before Christ) to Jesus Christ for the coming of Jesus Christ! Pray that God will prepare us for the coming of Jesus Christ! The Church also tells us to repent and convert, that is, to turn away from sin and to turn to Jesus Christ! Turning away from sin is not good enough, because we will turn back to sin! We must turn to Jesus Christ, the grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness of God! The Church tells us to go to “confession”, to make peace with God who has made peace with us, so that we can make peace with ourselves and make peace with others. The Church also asks us to love and to practice charity, to be Santa Claus to the poor, the weak, the orphaned, the dispossessed, the disenfranchised, the sick, the aged, etc.. But even before we practice charity, the Church asks us to practice justice! The Church also asks us to share the Good News of Christmas with others, to go caroling, etc.!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.