HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A
On this Fourth and Last Advent Sunday before the Feast of Christmas, we are renewed in the blessings of one of the perennial promises of God in the Holy Scripture that He will always be with and for us forever and ever (Deut 31:8). This promise He has continued to manifest in His dealings with us. I pray that God will remain with and for you now and always; Amen.
This theme of God’s presence amongst us is the main focus of all the readings of today. In the First Reading (Isaiah 7:10-14) and in the Gospel Reading (Matthew 1:18-24), the greatest manifestation of God’s presence amongst us was both pronounced by God through the mouth of the Prophet Ahaz and concretely realized in the family of Mary and Joseph at Nazareth through the power of the Holy Spirit respectively. This singular act of God through the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Mary and Joseph remains the singular reason for this season and for the great feast we earnestly await. There is no better explanation of that most sublime name and description of God as “the Emmanuel” other than in the Incarnation- the taking on of flesh of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity (John 1:14). The human birth of God remains the foundation for all the mysteries of our faith; it is the most magnificence concrete expression of God’s perpetual presence with us.
As we are already at the door post of the celebration of this Feast, we are recalled to a deeper assurance of God’s presence with us. The reality of the Emmanuel-God with us- is an invitation to a life of apostleship bringing “about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations” as Saint Paul instructs us in the Second Reading (Romans 1:1-7).
If God is by all means with us then who are we? We are simply Emmanuelites; those who possess in the greatest measure that God who is with us and who can never cease being with us. Our God is Emmanuel because He is always with us. If He is with us always, then we are Emmanuelites because we are with Him in return and the simplest definition of an Emmanuelite is one who perpetuates the presence of God. If the Emmanuel Himself was filled with the Holy Spirit and went about doing good (Acts 10:38), an Emmanuelite must share in unique ways this quality of God as a dispenser of goodness and good works. The only test to prove an Emmanuelite is the amount of goodness you are able to reproduce in imitation of the Emmanuel. God is with us to lead us away from darkness; to infuse goodness into us; to make us sharers of goodness. These are the true identities of an Emmanuelite. Our God is Emmanuel because He is with us and we are Emmanuelites because we in turn are with Him and the only sign that we are with Him is how much goodness we are able to reproduce. Are you an Emmanuelite? Where is the goodness?
May the God with us be with you and your household and empower each and every one of us to be true Emmanuelites by being dispensers of goodness; Amen. Happy Sunday;
-Fr. Cyril Unachukwu