4th Sunday of Advent
December 21, 2014 – Year B
Readings: 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Psalm 89; Rom 16:25-27; Lk 1:26-38
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
In three days, it will be Christmas. The children are anticipating the gifts they will receive from Santa and all the people who love them. But for the adults, especially parents, grandparents and godparents, the next three days can be a little stressful. There is last-minute shopping, Christmas cards, and preparing our homes, For those who are hosting a family reunion – that is Purgatory. This is why Christian leaders throughout the world remind their congregations that in spite of all the hustle and bustle, we should always remember that Christ is the reason for the season and everything else is just trappings and decorations.
There is a silver lining in the cloud of the so-called commercialization of the season. According to a poll, 68% of Americans prefer signs in the store that say, “Merry Christmas.” The majority still believes Christ is the reason for the season called Christmas, when we celebrate the good news that God loves the world so much that he gave us his son to be our savior and redeemer.
Speaking of preparation, how long did it take the Lord God to prepare for the first Christmas? The Bible tells us it took hundreds of years. Many scripture scholars tell us the entire Old Testament is the preparation for the coming of the Messiah. The Old Testament is the promise, and the New Testament is the fulfillment of that promise.
Children know that because their parents and grandparents love them, they will surely fulfill whatever they promise them – that is, if whatever they are asking for is good for them. Yesterday, while I was drinking my morning coffee, I was reading the letters to Santa Claus written by the first and second graders from Body Camp Elementary School, published in the Bedford Bulletin. The most requested gift that these children want to have for Christmas is: a puppy.
Now this would not have surprised me 50 years ago, because I remember I asked for a puppy for Christmas when I was their age, living 10,000 miles across the globe. But in the year 2014, when these children have countless options for gifts and toys, this is, for me, a little surprising. They could have asked for an interactive robot or the baby monster that can display more than 40 expressions through its eyes. But instead, they asked Santa for a puppy.
I am happy that many of the children made this choice, because it tells us that even with all the wonders of modern technology, human nature remains the same. For those around my age, we are fortunate to experience the exciting changes and inventions of the last few decades. From radio to HD TV, from LPs to Blu-Rays, from silent movies to IMAX, from typewriters to laptops, Androids, Galaxies, iPhones and iPads, from snail mail to email, Facebook, Twitter and Text Messaging. And yet, all people, the young and those advanced in years, have one basic human desire – to love and be loved.
By instinct, these first and second graders from Body Camp Elementary School know that the puppy will fill this human desire. They know it is so easy to love little puppies and these pets will, in turn, love them back unconditionally. This is something that digital toys cannot do.
This is what Christmas is all about. It is the manifestation of God’s unconditional love for each and every one of us. Not only for those of us gathered here, but even those who have forgotten his very existence.
In today’s gospel, the angel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she has been chosen by God to be his instrument so that this love will become a human being, like us. This is how important we are in God’s eyes. With this reality, we can’t help but express our gratitude to him. That’s why in today’s psalm 89, we sang, “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.” This faithfulness and love will ever be with us.
In the Preface of this Mass, we will pray, “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks.” When we reflect on the meaning of Christmas, we know that we have every reason for thanksgiving.
That is why, as we continue to celebrate this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we will lift our minds, hearts and voices in gratitude to God, who has been so loving and gracious to us. In a few minutes, our Lord Jesus, who is God’s love personified, will once again give us his body, blood, soul, and divinity in Holy Communion, not only so we can feel his presence, but so we might also have the strength and the grace to be instruments of his love.