Fourth Sunday of Advent - December 23, 2018 (Thoman)
Micah 5:1-4a | Heb 10:5-10 | Lk 1:39-45
I. I wonder what Christmas looks like for those with little – or no – Christian faith.
- Does it seem like much-to-do about nothing?
- Do they wonder what the fuss is all about?
- Or do they just accept it as a cultural, perhaps early winter, festival where we
put up lights, have great foods, get together with friends and family?
- Does the story of Jesus’ birth hold any more meaning than Rudolph the Red
Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman?
- Perhaps the story seems like a quaint, ancient fairy tale those Christians repeat
year after year.
- Do they wonder what’s up with a tiny town called Bethlehem, talk of shepherds,
Mary and Joseph, no room in the inn, visiting magi from the east?
- Do they scoff at a story about a woman conceiving without knowing man or an
older lady becoming pregnant?
Does the story of Christmas – and all the surrounding festivities – hold less meaning
and importance than for those who hold Christian faith?
I’m sure there is a range of reaction to the Christmas story among those who do
not put much stock in it – from those who outright mock, ridicule, make fun of the
story – to those who hold some childhood fondness about the story – to those who
wish they could believe more – to those who are indifferent and just let it be
another cultural thing to do.
II. For those of faith these days are welcomed and embraced. We seek to plumb the
depths of Christmas’ meaning – not only the good food, the fun, the festivities, the
beautiful time with family – but also the meaning of this event – that the coming of
Christ has determined the very way in which we count time; the Christ event has
divided human history into the years before Christ and the years of our Lord. We
know and understand that Christ has irrevocably impacted millions of people down
through the ages. The Christ event has given their lives meaning, hope and
purpose. Even death has lost its sting and has a purpose of its own.
III. We see the difference faith makes in the lives of Mary and Elizabeth. These were
women of profound faith who trusted in God’s ancient promises revealed through
prophets like Micah and Isaiah. We see that trust expressed in Elizabeth’s greeting
to Mary, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
What if they had not believed? What if they had not been in tune with the
teachings and traditions of their Jewish faith? What if they were not women of
prayer? Or what if they had simply turned away – ran away from – the mysterious
happenings in their lives?
How meaningful would their life had been? Without faith would they have felt
their lives had purpose? Would they come to the end of their lives with a feeling of
peace and contentment with how they had lived their lives – or would they have
IV. In these coming days, will you be rubbing shoulders with those of little or weak or
no faith? Like Mary and Elizabeth, how can you be faith-filled witnesses to Christ?
- Perhaps it is simply evident in your demeanor – a demeanor which expresses
your inner peace and contentment. A demeanor that reveals you are the calm
in the midst of a storm….that your faith and hope keep you grounded and stable
- You can be a faith-filled witness through the genuine hospitality you extend to
them in your home…at family gatherings…in your place of work.
- The difference faith makes in your life can be seen in the joy evident in your
eyes, in your conversation, in your humility and gentleness and civility in your
- You may also invite them to participate with you in the religious festivities of
these days…invite them to Mass…invite them to pray with you at a family
dinner….invite them to celebrate with children their participation in the story of
- And, when and if it seems possible, share with them the difference faith makes
in your life. Relate to them incidents in this past year when faith was your
guide and direction.
V. Meanwhile we, we who are people of faith, turn to these final hours before
Christmas and embrace them for ourselves. We seek to plumb in new ways the
depths of meaning of this great feast: we embrace the light of the world, for we
know this light has made all the difference in our lives.
Let us prepare ourselves to hear the Christmas story once again – as if for
the very first time….
Fr. Dwayne Thoman