Homily for 4th Sunday in Advent, Cycle C

posted Dec 21, 2015, 4:04 AM by Church Office   [ updated Dec 21, 2015, 4:04 AM by Michelle Massung ]

So, let me ask you a question.  How is your stress level at this point? Really feeling the pressure to get so much more done in last few days before Christmas, given that there are only 4 or 5 days left before Christmas.  I too am feeling the stress and anxiety of the rapid approach of Christmas, especially since this will be my first Christmas here at Ss. Peter and Paul.  I am just finding out about the various traditions that take place during the children’s mass etc.  One thing I will tell you is that I will not be using incense at any of the masses.  As much as I think that is adds a little beauty to the mass, I also heard that in years past, it set off the fire alarms and the local fire companies arrived in the middle of mass.  As much as I want people to come to mass on Christmas, I don’t want to force them to come. 

            Why are we so stressed this time of the year? What causes us so much anxiety and tension in the days leading up to Christmas?  It is because we want things to go well, we want to buy the perfect present, send out cards to all our family and friends, want to throw the perfect party, have the perfect decorations, give the perfect homily, etc.  Why? Because we care.  We want to show our love to our family and friends.  We want to do our best to extend that love to them as a way of showing how much we care about them and how much we appreciate them in our lives.  We want to thank them for their help throughout the past year out of love for them.  You see, on Christmas, God, who is love, enters the world as a little baby.  In order to prepare for his arrival, we need to express our love for others; to make room for him in our hearts; we have to think of others and not our own selfish desires.  This love for others causes us stress, just like the stress that the family of Jesus encountered the weeks leading up to his birth. How did they handle the stress?

            Well this past week during daily mass we have heard about many of the men and women that played a role in the upcoming birth of our Lord on Christmas. We heard about Zachariah and how he didn't really believe the message of the angel and as a result was unable to speak until the birth of his son John the Baptist. Once he repented, he regained his ability to speak. Then we heard about Elizabeth, his wife.  She is like Mary and trusted in the message of the angel and became the mother of John the Baptist.

Then there is Mary. She was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. In doing so, she went against the culture and society and became pregnant before being married.  She too risked her life by doing God’s will.

            Then there was Joseph, probably the guy we hear the least about during Advent. He had so much to lose by taking Mary as his pregnant wife. He would normally have been outcast by his family and friends and then sent away in disgrace. Then after Jesus was born, he had another dream and the angel told him to take his family to Egypt. “Are you kidding me??”,  he must have thought. In Egypt, Jews were persecuted. Yet against the pressures of society, he trusted in God and went to Egypt. 

            Despite all the public pressure and social issues they faced in making these decisions, each chose to trust God and to do his will. They made a God-centered choice not a society-centered choice. In each case, things work out very well for them. As you can see, each was blessed abundantly by God for choosing to do his will and not submitting to the pressures of society.

            In order to lessen your stress, know that you are doing what you are doing out of love for God and for others like Jesus’ relatives did. Because of love, you want everything perfect.  Well relax, nobody expects you to be perfect, not even God. That is why he sent his Son in the first place; to suffer and die for our mistakes, out of love. What people want most from any of us is time and love.  Those are the two greatest gifts we can give to anyone.  That is the perfect gift you can give to your loved ones; to spend time with them and let them know how much you care about them.  In giving them these presents of time and love, you can truly be like the baby Jesus who gave himself to us out of love.  As we prepare for his coming on Friday, let us share our love for others like he did for us.