HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR A.
THEME: GOD IS WITH US.
BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya.
Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Beloved in Christ, God is always faithful in his promises and He in return expects us to be obedient to him. Joseph in our gospel reading today therefore, gives us an example of this obedience, an obedience which means total submission to the will of God for us. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans hence, reminds us that the death and resurrection of Christ has bestowed on us the grace necessary for obedience to God.
We are still waiting for the Lord to come in. We have a week to turn things around, to repent, to get our hearts and minds and souls cleansed, so that the king of glory may come in on Christmas Day. For those of us who may not have taken the time this Advent, we must try to find a little time in the hustle and bustle of our busy last days – find maybe ten minutes to put away distractions and listen to the pulse of the Advent season – to relax into it, to open our heart to it, then see it clearly in the faces of the people around us.
We should try not to let the commercialization of Christmas, along with the harsh economy spoil the beautiful mood and the sense of family belonging that characterize Christmas. Then with a clean heart and mind and soul, we can let Christ truly enter in, and be the gift that never ends, our help in need, our rock of strength. To live our lives in the light of ‘God is with us’ is the vocation of each Christian, but it is also the vocation of a lifetime.
But what does it mean to believe that ‘God is with us’? That we actually believe this – as distinct from giving it verbal recognition – we should not take for granted that our world tends to push ‘God’ out to the frontiers of our ways of thinking and imagining life and the universe. On the one hand, the whole liturgy of Advent and Christmas is an attempt to bring this mystery (God is with us) before us; but on the other hand, one can hear the words but this is not some simple piece of information to be learned; it is something that we have to grasp with our minds, our emotions, and our wills. One way is to lead a meditation on a series of questions. These questions include:
Do we believe we encounter the presence of God in our gathering? Jesus said: ‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Mt 18:20).
Do we believe we encounter the presence of God in the hungry, in combating hunger and other basic human needs? Jesus said: ‘for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ (Mt 25:35).
Do we believe we encounter the presence of God in combating poverty and injustice? Jesus said: ‘I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me’ (Mt 25:36).
Do we believe we encounter the presence of God in love, in goodness, in creativity? We believe that God is the source of our light and goodness. As Jesus said: ‘Let your light so shine before all, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven’ (Mt 5:16).
Do we believe that we can encounter the presence of God in prayer, and become aware that God is personal and hears us? Jesus said: ‘And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith’ (Mt 21:22).
Over the next few days we will hear ‘Emmanuel’ in the liturgy in its prayers and hymns and carols. We may even hear this gospel passage read several times. But each time we hear the name ‘Emmanuel’ we have to remind ourselves that we are challenged to believe that ‘God is with us. This is the Christian conviction that inspires the whole celebration of Christmas.
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