Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Fourth Sunday of Advent—20 December AD 2009

Fourth Sunday of Advent[1]

Ordinary of the Mass in Latin and English
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Dominica Quarta Adventus

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord:  make straight His paths....”[2]

    The Mass this morning seems to be filled with impatience.  The prayers and the chants seem to be demanding that our Lord hasten His birth on Christmas:  “Drop down dew, ye heavens from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One—let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior.”[3]  “Stir up Thy power and come, we pray Thee, O Lord.”[4]  “Come,  O Lord, and tarry not:  forgive the sins of Thy people Israel.”[5]

    We have a similar perspective in our secular observance of Christmas.  There are few Christian children in America who are not vibrating with excitement over the fact that Christmas morning will soon be here, with the hope of toys and a Christmas tree with colored lights and tinsel.  A lot of our people are excited about going to visit friends and loved ones whom they have not seen in a long time.  Even seeing the people whom you see every day seems to have a special attraction to it on Christmas.

    All of that is good.  You have probably heard me say it before:  Christmas ought to be a time for feeling good about feeling good.  Pope Saint Leo the Great went so far as to say that “It would be unlawful to be sad on this day.”[6]

    But with all of the excitement—with all of the hustle and bustle that surrounds the secular observance of Christmas—we must be sure to keep it firmly in mind that the reason for all of the festivity is the birth of Christ.  It is not some sort of coincidence that Jesus Christ was born on the day we associate with Presents and Rum and Eggnog, and Mistletoe.  That day is important, and we celebrate it, precisely because it is the birthday of our Lord.  The primary cause of our joy, and the object of our celebration must be the birth of our Redeemer.

    No other birthday is as important as that of our Lord.  It came only after centuries of anticipation, as generation after generation awaited the fulfillment of God’s promise to Adam and Eve, spoken to the serpent in the Garden of Eden: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”[7]  Only in the fullness of time would the Immaculate Virgin Mary give her consent to what was spoken by the Angel Gabriel— that by her obedience, the disobedience of Eve might be overturned. Only in the fullness of time, would the Immaculate Virgin bring forth the One who would make things right once more with God the Father. 

    Other great men and women are remembered on their birthdays, but the remembrance fades with the years.  Washington and Lincoln are now lumped together.  Lenin and Stalin are pretty much discredited;  remembered more in infamy than in honor.  A few South American revolutionaries are remembered in their countries, but hardly any where else.  And all of these go back merely a few hundred years.  Caesar Augustus was the Roman Emperor at the birth of Christ, but ask the average person on the street when Augustus was born and you will just get a blank stare.[8]  But very few are ignorant of the day on which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

    We have only a few days before we celebrate this momentous birthday.  We should be cognizant of those words of Saint John the Baptist:  “Prepare ye the way of the Lord:  make straight His paths....”  How do we prepare the way of the Lord?  In addition to the last minute shopping, we should be sure to make our spiritual preparation.  There are only a few days left to Advent, but we can be sure to read the infancy narratives—the first few chapters of Saint Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels.

    Perhaps more important would be to make a good Confession.  I’ll be happy to hear Confessions either before or after any of the Masses this week.  Prepare to receive our new born Lord reverently in Holy Communion.  And, this is where the impatience of the season must stop:  When you receive Holy Communion, especially on Christmas, go back to your seat, sit down, relax ... close your eyes and spend a few quiet minutes in speaking with our Lord.  A few moments of meditation with our Lord while He is a physically close to you as is possible.  Tell Him that you love Him.  Thank Him for making Christmas possible.

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord:  make straight His paths....”



[2]   Gospel: Luke iii: 1-6.

[3]   Introit: Isaias xiv: 8.

[4]   Collect.

[5]   Alleluia verse.

[6]   Pope Saint Leo the Great, Sermon 1 on the Nativity – Second Nocturn of the Feast.

[8]   23 September 63 BC.


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