[Parish Bulletin Reflection on 4th Sunday of Advent 2017]

By Fr. Abe Arganiosa

This 4th Sunday of Advent we lit the Candle of Peace to teach us that genuine peace can only come from God not in politics, power or money. Our hearts finds serenity when united with the Heart of Jesus as St. Augustine beautifully wrote: “Thou made us for Thyself O Lord and our hearts will not rest until they rest in Thee” [Confessions].

Our Sunday Gospel [Lk 1:26-38] presents the Virgin Mary as model of Christian virtues and spirituality. God chose The Virgin to be the sign from heaven [Is 7:14] and the means to bring forth the Redeemer of the world [Gen 3:15/ Mic 5:1-3]. The ancient prophecies of the coming of the Messiah through the Virgin are finally fulfilled when the Angel Gabriel came to Nazareth.

Why did God prefer the Virgin? To remind that if we want Him to come into our life we need to purify ourselves. Only in a heart made pure can God enter. Only in soul sanctified can He indwell. Only a body cleansed by grace can be an instrument of the saving presence of God. Mary’s heart is full of grace [Lk 1:28] and her soul so immersed in prayers [Lk 1:46-47] that the Divine Word chose her to be the vessel of His Incarnation. This is a call for us to repent of our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we too can be purified totally. So that the grace of God can also flow in and through our persons and that Christ will be born in us spiritually and share Him to others.

When the Angel Gabriel acknowledged Mary as ‘Full of Grace’ [Lk 1:28] she was troubled. The Angel told her not be afraid and went on explaining her role as the Mother of the Messiah-King [Lk 1:30-35]. For clarification she asked: “How can this be?” Then, the Angel explained further; Mary’s fear and trouble found peace when presented to God in love! How many times do we find ourselves in situation that we do not understand such as, death in the family or diagnosed sickness or unexpected accidents or tragedy? Instead of being bitter and depressed let us follow Mary. Let us dialogue with God in prayer. Offer Him your pains, frustrations, fears and troubles. Be silent before God in the Blessed Sacrament and feel His glowing presence. Hear the Word of God at Holy Mass or through personal readings. Then like Mary we shall hear the voice of God speaking to us in unexpected ways.

Tomorrow, December 25 we shall finally celebrate THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH. This ancient formula of faith declares the truth that Jesus is truly a historic person, not a myth. The Genealogy of Jesus in Christmas Vigil’s Gospel [Mt 1:1-25] attests that God truly became Man. He got a mother and a family Tree. He became like us in all things but sin [Heb 2:17; 4:15]. The gap between heaven and earth has been breached. Eternity entered into time. The Immortal became mortal; the Infinite became finite. God came into our realm and met us on our own level. God chose to become weak so that He can make us strong. He became man so that we can be like God.

For that reason Christmas is the greatest day of rejoicing for us Catholics together with Easter. It is the assurance that eternal life is possible and real because God Himself came to prove it.  As the People of God we celebrate it through the joys of being human: we eat together, sing together, gather in family reunions, beautify our homes, wear our best clothes and give gifts especially to children and the poor.

Let us rejoice and be glad because Jesus The Child-King was born in the manger of Bethlehem. Let Him dispel the darkness in the world and transform our life. Amen. Alleluia!!!