Our Journey is Nearly Complete. Are We Prepared? The Fourth and Final Sunday of Advent

Please take a moment to enjoy this week's reflection from Fr. Michal Wojciak, S.A.C.

When original sin occurred, God immediately assures us that, paraphrasing from the Book of Genesis, one day everything will return to its original sanctity and order.  Stories written in the Bible are and will always be the word of God. Sometimes it is difficult to understand what this is all about. You have to put in some effort to read and understand God's Word in these stories and writings.  It is necessary for us to expend some effort to read and understand God’s word correctly.  The Holy Bible was written in a span of roughly fifteen hundred (1500) years in times and cultures very different from ours.  We believe that the Holy Spirit guided the authors of the Bible and that the words contained in the Scriptures are a particular message from God which can be applied to our current situation.  Sometimes I hear statements from people in our times that say that one or another of the Bible’s books should be rejected because, as in the Old Testament, God is perceived as too punitive or that some modern-day discovery contradicts what is written in the Bible. 

It seems to me that the most common reason for such statements is pure ignorance.  Scripture was, is and always will be the Word of God and, therefore, will never be outdated.  I am writing about this to emphasize even more the meaning of the Word made flesh.  I have no fear in stating that those who reject Jesus as the Messiah are extremely hardened and intellectually blind.  Evidence that Jesus is the expected Messiah is found in the bible, written in many prophecies. These prophecies are fulfilled in the Person of Jesus.  

Prophets have provided certain circumstances in which Jesus will be born or how he will die. The first reading for this, the fourth and last Sunday of Advent, even indicates the place where the king (child) will be born.  It will happen in Bethlehem, or somewhere very near Bethlehem, in a cave that provides shelter for animals.

Bethlehem, at the time of Jesus’ birth, was a place of little or no consequence.  It was considered a peculiar city of evil. The Fathers of the Church, commenting on this place of Jesus' birth, see in it a great symbolism that God decided to choose a place full of sin to show from the beginning, from birth, that Jesus came to seek and to find what was lost and wrong. The ancient prophecy is fulfilled: Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign; the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel (Isaiah, chapter 7).  “Emmanuel” means God with us. Not against us, not next to us, but with us! And with us usually when He is most needed. Analyze the Gospel, and you will see that Jesus is going where sin and suffering are present. People whose lives have moved them away from God’s salvation have a priority in Jesus’s eyes.  This is what the prophet Isaiah wrote about and proclaimed.  Everything has come true. And what has not yet been fulfilled will surely come true, because God said so.

At the end of this year's Advent, it is worth emphasizing the extraordinary role of Our Lady in all of this.  She is the humble servant of the Lord who breaks the enemy's arrows and crushes the serpent's head.  Without the Immaculate Lady, who is the most perfect and the purest of creatures - the world is lost. We worship Mary because she deserves this honor.  In her, the prophecy which God spoke right after sin in the Garden of Paradise came true.  She is the one whose offspring crushes the serpent's head.  Hold on to Mary.  With her you will not go astray, you will not get lost in this strange world.  She is the one who prevents the enemy of man from drawing so many of those who God loves from being drawn into his dark, infernal kingdom.  We should remember, that where the faith in Mary is lacking, confidence in the Eucharistic Jesus wanes. 

May this Christmas be filled with love and joy for Jesus as we again celebrate his coming into the world.  May our celebration of this extraordinary event with family and friends give all of us the wonderful opportunity to give and receive love.  Amen.