Advent Reflections for December 23
Week 4 - Sunday
Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, He is coming, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)
For children, these last days of waiting are probably the hardest. The goal is in sight now, but it is still far enough away to make the wait seem endless.
When we are grown, waiting for Christmas is not a major problem. Nevertheless, as the day approaches even grownups feel the urgency in the air. As we anticipate the celebration of Christmas, let us look around us. Are those around us anticipating joy and happiness or loneliness and depression?
Prayer for the Advent Wreath
Lord, our God, we praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ,
Find someone who is not anticipating the holiday with joy and attempt to brighten their outlook.
One chance in millions
by Archbishop Fulton Sheen
A Jewish scholar who became a Christian and who knew the Old Testament very well and all of the traditions of the Jews, said that at the time of Christ the rabbis had gathered together 456 prophecies concerning the Messiah, the Christ, the conqueror of evil who was to be born and to enter into a new covenant with mankind. Suppose the chances of any one prophecy being fulfilled by accident, say the place where he would be born, was one in a hundred.
Then, if two prophecies were fulfilled, the chances would be one in a thousand. If three prophecies were to coincide in Christ, that would be one in ten thousand. If four, one in a hundred thousand. If five, one in a million. Now if all of these prophecies were fulfilled in Christ, what would be the chance of them all concurring at the appointed moment, not only in place but also in time, as was foretold by the prophet Daniel? Take a pencil and write on a sheet of paper the numeral 1, and draw a line beneath it. Under the line write 84, and after 84, if you have time, write 126 zeros. That is the chance of all of the prophecies of Christ being fulfilled. It runs into millions and millions, trillions and trillions.
Source: Through the Year With Archbishop Fulton Sheen. IgnatiusInsight.com
Gospel: The birth of John the Baptist (Luke)
The Gospel today tells us that all those who heard about John the Baptist's birth (and his father's transformation when it came time to name him) wondered at the story and asked what this child would become, "For surely the hand of the Lord was with him." They understood that the Lord was working through this small child and his family; they perceived their God through the signs he placed in the world. The Lord had shown great mercy to John's aged, barren mother. He had silenced Zechariah for doubting. And then the Lord freed Zechariah's tongue for recognizing his greatness. God gave clear signs to his people that this was someone they needed to watch. Truly this is the great invitation that John's birth signals – an invitation to recognize the Lord through his signs, and to gaze attentively at what his hand has wrought. John is a perpetual, continual, sign for each of us.
Preparing for a New Presence
During Advent the Church identifies with John the Baptist and uses his witness to prepare us for the new presence of Christ that will be ours at Christmas. This towering saint, the friend of the Bridegroom, as Luke shows us today in the Gospel, appeared at just the moment God willed for him. He is a figure in time and space, in history. The word of the Lord came to him in "the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" (probably AD 28-29) and, to prepare Israel for the coming of its Messiah, he preached a "baptism of repentance." In this way the people could ratify their membership in Israel and accept their vocation. They repented and renounced their sins, accepted a baptism that signified conversion, and committed themselves to God. John was "a voice of one crying out in the desert: "Prepare the way of the Lord." We prepare the way for the Lord to come into our hearts by repenting of our sins, expressing our conversion by a good confession, accepting our vocation as Christians, and helping others, especially in our families, to prepare their hearts for the grace of Christmas. The Lord is saying to you: listen to John's words resounding in my Church and yield to what I want to do in your life.
Reflection based on Luke 1:57-66
by Rebecca Vitz Cherico
Loving Father, you fill my life with signs so that I might live with certainty before your Presence. Make me more sensitive to your every grace.
O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appears.
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