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Homily (Reflection) for the Fourth Sunday of Advent (C) (23rd December, 2018) on the Gospel
Mic 5:1-4;
Ps 79:2-3.15-16.18-19. (R. v. 4);
Heb 10:5-10;
Lk 1:39-45.
A king who had no sons to succeed him posted a sign inviting young men in his kingdom to become his adopted son and rule after him. There were only two qualifications. The boy must love God and neighbour deeply. A young peasant boy felt moved to apply, but he lacked decent clothes for the interview. Finally, he saved enough money for the clothes. As the boy neared the palace, he came upon a shivering old man begging for clothes. The boy was moved to pity and gave the beggar the clothes he had bought for the interview. Then the boy went on to the castle, wondering if he would be admitted in rags. The boy did gain admittance. When he came to the throne, he couldn’t believe his eyes. On the throne sat the shivering old man. The king smiled and said, “Welcome, my son.”[i]
Topic: Faith in Action.
The messages delivered to Mary and Zechariah by Archangel Gabriel elicited in them different reactions. In Mary, the message met faith expressed in the words: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38) whereas in Zechariah, the message met unbelief expressed thus: “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years” (Lk 1:18-20).
In today’s gospel, Mary embarked on a difficult journey from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea just to visit her kinswoman, Elizabeth based on her faith. Hence under the influence of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 1:41) Elizabeth said: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Lk 1:45).
But being blessed is not limited to Mary alone but extends to all who live by faith. According to the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). And being a Christian is another way of saying that one has faith in God and his Christ. Hence for Saint Jude, faith is the foundation on which the saints build themselves, cf. Jude 1:20. It is faith that leads to salvation (1Pt 1:9). The faithless cannot please God, cf. Heb 11:6. We are called to live by faith, cf. Heb 10:38. Saint John rightly points out that our faith is the victory that conquers the world (1Jn 5:4). Faith must be supported with goodness (2Pt 1:5). In line with this, Saint James insists that faith and action must go together (Jas 2:14-26). And when faith is tested, it results to endurance (Jas 1:3). Faith in God and his Christ is what distinguishes Christians from others, cf. Heb 4:2.
Dear friends in the Lord, as we celebrate the last Sunday of Advent, it is important for us to check how we live out our faith. How do our actions testify to our faith in Christ we are preparing for the celebration of His birth? Mary did not express her faith in words alone (Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word (Lk 1:38)) she also expressed her faith as we see in today’s gospel in action. In our introductory story, the king needed no one to tell him that the peasant boy possessed the two qualities he was looking for in a young man to be adopted to succeed him. As we wait for Christ, let us express our faith in our actions. And do not forget that the Christ we are preparing for is that man or woman out there, cf. Matt 25:40, 45.
Bible Readings: 1Jn 5:1-5; 2Pt 1:3-15; Jas 2:14-26; Heb 11.
Silent Prayer: To what extent do my faith and my actions agree?
Let us pray: God of heaven and earth, give us the grace that will enable us to be strong in faith not just in words but most importantly in actions at the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ – Amen.
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[i] Fuller, G. (2010). Stories for all Seasons. Mumbai: St Pauls, p.103.

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