Theme: CHRIST IS THE REASON FOR CHRISTMAS!
By: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
Homily for Sunday December 19 2021
HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR C
(MICAH 5:1-4; HEBREWS 10:5-10; LUKE 1:39-45)
Christmas is always the busiest season of the year. While others are stressed and anxious about so many things, we are reminded to focus our attention on Jesus, the center of this joyous season. There is no reason for worries and anxieties. Whatever problems and difficulties we may encounter, we take them all up to the Lord in prayer. Turn worries into prayers. As an old song says “what a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to god in prayer”
Unfortunately, Jesus is no longer present in our Christmas celebration. The greeting “Merry Christmas” is replaced with “Happy Holidays!” The image of the crib and the Holy Family in Bethlehem is dwarfed by the ubiquitous giant Christmas Tree. Jesus Christ is totally overshadowed by Santa Claus. Many people don’t even bother to go to Church on these days. So, when Christ is taken away from Christmas, when God is absent from our gatherings and celebrations, what is there left if not going bag to paganism. Pope Benedict XVI termed it “crisis of indifference.” In his address to members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, he said, “The crisis we are living through carries with it signs of the exclusion of God from people’s lives, a general indifference to the Christian faith, and even the intention of marginalizing it from public life” (Vatican City, May 30, 2011).
In the light of the reason for Christmas, we focus on a young, gentle woman, who is about to give birth to a child. A young Virgin as prophesied by Isaiah and Her name is Mary. The readings speak about the child to be born of Mary and they also give us some indication of Mary’s role in our lives. It is appropriate on this last Sunday of Advent that we consider the role of Mary in God’s plan of salvation. Elizabeth describes Mary as the first disciple, as the one who believed that God’s word to her would be fulfilled. Mary’s openness to God allowed God to work through her so that salvation might come to everyone. May we be like Mary, open and cooperative in God’s plan for salvation.
Again, today’s liturgy offers a model for all our relationships. To exist as a being means to be in relationships with others. Human relations may be extremely varied, but in the end, they are reduced to two fundamental types: the relationship with God and with others. The texts mainly refer to Jesus’ and Mary’s relationships with God. We read of Jesus’ relationship with his Father, with John the Baptist in his mother’s womb. We also consider Mary’s relationship with the Holy Spirit, with her cousin Elizabeth and especially with the Word. These relationships are what we must fine-tune this last Sunday of advent before Christmas. Is it possible that you have not spoken to your parents or child or any of your siblings since this year? Sorry, that is asleep of tongue. No matter what he or she does to appease you, you have remained adamant. Perhaps that is another sleep of tongue to say such a thing about a Catholic.
As we gradually approach the fulfillment of God’s promise to us, the gospel of this Sunday presents us with the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. Despite her pregnancy, Mary still found time to visit her cousin to share her joy and to assist her. This is a proof of her spirit of hospitality, generosity, humility, love, and her faith in God who chose her. Therefore, she is blessed.
My brothers and sisters, Christmas is almost here. Just a few more days! The word of God is seeking to open our hearts to the great mystery that we will be celebrating in the Birth of the Savior. To understand a bit more about Jesus, we must understand a lot more about all the Scriptures that went before Him and point to Him. That is why St Jerome said that ignorance of the scripture is ignorance of Christ. Christ is the reason for Christmas.
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara