Brett Fawcett

WORD MADE FLESH

Fourth Sunday in Advent – December 20, 2015
Micah 5.2-5 | Psalm 80 | Hebrews 10.5-10 | Luke 1.39-45
December 7, 2015

Today's readings for the last Sunday of Advent are full of images of children. Our Lord said only she who becomes like a child is fit for the kingdom of heaven, and no wonder: Jesus himself is the kingdom; from all eternity he has been the Son, receiving everything from the Father. He was childlike before the worlds were born.

What does it mean to be childlike? The spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux was a reflection on this: It means to be lowly, to be hidden, to have nothing of our own, no merit of your own, to have nothing but trust in God.

The child in my womb leaped for joy. - Luke 1.44

'The child in my womb leaped for joy.'

Luke 1.44

In today's First Reading, the prophet Micah speaks to Bethelehem - it is small, hidden, of no political significance, like a tiny farming village on the Prairies. Yet out of it will come the shepherd who will save God's people.

When Micah was writing, the people of Israel were scattered, in exile, humiliated. God says: I have given my people up (other translations say "abandoned" them), but I will send a king to gather them and return them to their land - a grand and heroic vision.

How was this fulfilled? Today's reading from Hebrews shows us: Jesus, despised and rejected on the cross, ended the reign of Moses' law. Now Jews and Gentiles could be one people, united in the love of God.

Not very dramatic. Not exciting. Yet, in that quiet hiddenness, the world was saved. It was so quiet and so hidden that not everyone recognized it.

Yet today's Gospel reveals the first human being to acknowledge that Jesus was the Christ: An unborn child, the most helpless and silent witness of all, who can do nothing but rejoice with his whole being.

On one level, this teaches us to be childlike: To be humble, receptive, and not worried about proving or asserting ourselves - the spirit of the prayer of St. Francis. It also shows that God often works invisibly.

Advent is a time of hope, yet throughout this season, many of our family members and friends will remain in seemingly hopeless situations. They will keep making choices that exile themselves from ourselves and from God; they'll stay in bad relationships, or keep up addictions, or just keep betraying us.

Advent Wreath - Week 4

They will seem to be "abandoned" and to have abandoned us. (Those who work in ministry have this experience constantly.) This violent world often tempts us to despair.

But remember: God works silently, in hidden ways, just as for nine months a new life is being prepared for us, out of our sight. Catherine Doherty said that Advent was a time of spiritual pregnancy.

To be childlike means to take for granted that your Father knows more than you do. Trust that he is taking care of everything, even if you don't understand how; adopt the humble attitude of Jesus himself: "Behold, I come to do your will."