Message for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

My Dear Brothers and Sisters,

To Mary the archangel came
And God’s new message did proclaim,
‘Hail, Mary, you shall bear a son
Who shall be called the Holy One.’

As we continue our journey through Advent, I share with you a reflection on the 4th Sunday of Advent written by Terry Modica found on the Catholic Digital Resources website.

The final Sunday of Advent shows Elizabeth and her unborn son, John, reacting to the nearness of the unborn Christ.  We know that Elizabeth immediately understood that Mary was pregnant with the Lord, because the Gospel says she was filled with the Holy Spirit.  But how could the foetal John understand?  How could he leap for joy while still in the womb?  If it’s true that an unborn baby is not a person with a soul until it takes its first breath, how could the unborn John recognize the presence of the unborn Saviour?

The faith to recognize the presence of Christ comes from being fully alive in the Holy Spirit, who was given to us fully during our baptisms.  However, it takes a humble willingness to let God change our minds about what we think is true in order to be open to God’s Spirit teaching us what is indeed true. 

John as a foetus was incapable of understanding anything, especially when it happened outside the womb, yet he leapt for joy.  This teaches us that we don’t need to see God working in the world or solving our personal problems before we can leap for joy.  We don’t have to understand what God is doing, and we don’t even have to know His plans.

The Holy Spirit enlivened the faith of Elizabeth and John through an act of grace that depended on Christ’s future activity.  For us, our faith is enlivened by the grace God provides in the Sacraments.

The joy that comes from recognizing the presence of Christ is God’s Christmas gift to us.  It’s a joy that’s meant to last all year.  It’s a lifestyle, not a holiday.  It comes from a faith that appreciates God for working mercifully in ways that we can see and ways that we cannot see, because we trust in his goodness.  Even when we suffer or feel sorrow, we can learn to recognize the presence of Christ.

And then what?  Like John, we are called to be heralds of Christ’s presence.  How?  First by sharing our joy with others.

Heavenly Father, help us to share this joy of knowing