Today is a unique one because this one day is the shortest week of the year. It is only 24 hours. We call it the fourth week of advent. However, from another perspective this Sunday celebration brings us to the Monday celebration that begins the Christmas Season. It is a time of celebration.
If you heard all the Christmas music and saw all the decorations in the celebration of the secular definition of Christmas, you can see that it is supposed to be a happy time when people are friendly to each other and celebrate charity. It does not always pan out that way, but that is the way people look at it.
However, that is not it at all. It is bigger than that and you will never find that information out at the mall.
What is it all about?
Well, think of it this way: God does not give up on His people.
Today’s Gospel is the annunciation where the Angel Gabriel asks Mary to be the Mother of Jesus. She who was predestined to this position says “Yes” in reverse of Eve’s “No” to God. But this is all part of God’s plan to fix what was broken by our first parents. Why? So that you could be saved.
Now think of that message you heard while you were Christmas shopping.
You heard it is the most wonderful time of the year, you heard of joy to the world, you heard of peace on Earth,
Your heard that the Lord has come, you heard that we need to adore him and you heard more. But if there is one message you do not hear, it is God does not give up on us.
Do you know someone who is beyond salvation? The only people who are beyond salvation are those who reject the gift of salvation. There are others who feel they are beyond the reach of God’s love. They feel they are beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness and that God cannot forgive them; but the true message is that God does not give up on us so we cannot give up on ourselves or anyone else.
This also means that our message is not just for the people celebrating Christmas, but those who feel Christmas is passing them by. They are unable to get into the spirit because of their great pains and they feel they cannot be saved because of their great sins. These are the people to whom the message is most addressed and these are the ones to whom we must preach with our lives. They are also the most difficult ones. But, as Jesus later points out, it is easy to preach to those who accept the message easily. It is to those who are on the spiritual highways and byways who most need to hear the invitation.
We must make sure that we pass the word on to them, them especially.
This then is our message. This is why the Church exists to proclaim that message to all we do that by following the example of Mary. That is why we are called to be obedient to the call of Christ as was Mary.
It is not that we are earning our way to Heaven. Unfortunately, that heresy was profoundly taught in 20th Century, it is rather our living our faith is how we communicate that message: That Christ is alive and offers salvation to all who seek it. That in a sense everyday is Christmas, not a day to receive gifts. But to communicate that message of salvation to all.
However, do not forget that Christ came to destroy Satan’s power whose message is that there is no God and if there was, he condemns you.
There are many who have accepted that message so they remain focused on this world for they see no alternative.
Our call is to bring the true message of Christmas to the world. Satan lies. Christ lives and he offers you eternal life and salvation. Come encounter Christ and be in communion with Him at mass and throughout your life.
This is a far more powerful message than what we hear in store PA systems while people are battling with each other over parking spaces and special discounts. Christ has come to save you.
It is important to note that this message has only existed with the coming of Christ. Prior to his coming God only spoke to the Jews and worked through them with few exceptions. Christ came at the fullness of time, prior to that it was not time for his message to become universal. Mary’s Annunciation in Today’s Gospel was the beginning of making God’s plan of salvation universal for all.
So we wait expectantly this fourth Sunday of Advent for God’s next move which could come anytime or long after we are gone, but his message is still our message: Salvation has come to you if you choose to accept it because God does not give up on you. That is the message we live today, tomorrow and everyday.
Fr. Robert J Carr