4th Sunday of Advent Year B ~ December 24, 2023
LOVE COMPLETES EVERYTHING
We have come to the completion of our Advent Season as we light the 4th Candle which opens our hearts and minds to reflect on the theme of Love. The season of Advent basically is a time to reflect on the journey of the Divine becoming Human as St. John says, “He became flesh and dwelt among us”. This journey started right before the creation of the world as Jesus said, “he was even there when the world was created” and the author of Letter to Hebrews adds witness in this way “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds”.
I love the following story by an unknown author and his dialogue with God inspires us to always appreciate the love God has for us.
One day, I woke early in the morning to watch the sunrise. Ah! … the beauty of God’s creation is beyond description. As I watched, I praised God for His beautiful work. As I sat there, I felt the Lord’s presence with me. He asked me, “Do you love me?” I answered, “Of course, God! You are my Lord and Saviour!”
Then He asked, “If you were physically handicapped, would you still love me?”
I was perplexed. I looked down upon my arms, legs and the rest of my body and wondered how many things I would not be able to do and thought about the things that I take for granted. I answered, “It would be tough Lord, but I would still love You.”
Then the Lord said, “If you were blind, would you still love my creation?”
How could I love something without being able to see it? Then I thought of all the blind people in the world and how many of them still loved God and His creation. So, I answered, “It’s hard to think of it, but I would still love you.”
The Lord then asked me, “If you were deaf, would you still listen to my word?”
How could I listen to anything being deaf? Then I understood. Listening to God’s Word is not merely using our ears, but our hearts. I answered, “It would be tough, but I would still listen to Your word.”
The Lord then asked, “If you were mute, would you still praise My Name?”
How could I praise without a voice? Then it occurred to me, God wants us to sing from our very hearts and souls. It never matters what we sound like. And praising God is not always with a song, but when we are persecuted, we give God praise with our words of thanks. So, I answered, “Though I could not physically sing, I would still praise Your Name.”
And the Lord asked, “Do you really love Me?”
With courage and a strong conviction, I answered boldly, “Yes Lord! I love You because You are the one and true God!”
I thought I had answered well, but God asked, “Then why do you sin?”
I answered, “Because I am only human. I am not perfect.”
“Then why in times of peace do you stray the furthest? Why only in times of trouble do you pray the earnest?”
I had no answers … only tears.
The Lord continued. “Why only sing at fellowships and retreats? Why seek Me only in times of worship? Why ask things so selfishly? Why ask things so unfaithfully?”
The tears continued to roll down my cheeks. “Why are you ashamed of Me? Why are you not spreading the good news? Why in times of persecution, you cry to others when I offer My shoulder to cry on? Why make excuses when I give you opportunities to serve in My Name?”
“You are blessed with life. I made you not to throw this gift away. I have blessed you with talents to serve Me, but you continue to turn away. I have revealed My Word to you, but you do not gain in knowledge. I have spoken to you, but your ears were closed. I have shown My blessings to you, but your eyes were turned away. I have heard your prayers and I have answered them all. Do you truly love me?
I could not answer. How could I? I was embarrassed beyond belief. I had no excuse. What could I say to this? When my heart had cried out and the tears had flowed, I said, “Please forgive me Lord. I am unworthy to be Your child.”
The Lord answered, “That is My Grace, My child.”
I asked, “Then why do you continue to forgive me? Why do You love me so?”
The Lord answered, ” Because you are My creation. You are my child. I will never abandon you. When you cry, I will have compassion and cry with you. When you shout with joy, I will laugh with you. When you are down, I will encourage you. When you fall, I will raise you up. When you are tired, I will carry you. I will be with you until the end of days, and I will love you forever.”
Never had I cried so hard before. How could I have been so cold? How could I have hurt God as I had done? I asked God, “How much do You love me?”
The Lord stretched out His arms, and I saw His nail-pierced hands. I bowed down at the feet of Christ, my Savior. And for the first time, I truly prayed.
God created the universe when there was nothing and his spirit was hovering over the waters which clearly showed how God loved the world and for that love, he gave his only Begotten Son that anyone who believes in him, may have life and life in abundance. After creating the universe, God saw something missing and then he created his masterpiece “Adam” from the dust and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and Adam became living being. Did God’s love stop there? Absolutely not, but rather started growing deeper and deeper even though Adam and Eve committed sin and became unfaithful to him, he could not deny himself as St. Paul says because God created Adam on his own image.
Throughout the Salvation history of humankind God always walked with them but there it was still a long time to see him taking our human form and walking like us on this earth. God was preparing people for centuries to see him become human and take on the human form to be like us but without sin. God’s deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egyptian slavery and leading them to the promise land was the first step to prepare them for the journey of Divinity to humanity.
Later we read in the Scripture God kept sending his messengers and prophets to prepare people for this great mystery of “God becoming man”. We read from the Letter to Hebrews “Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the message declared through angels was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will”. This mystery was also announced 700 years ago by Prophet Isaiah “a virgin will bear a son and she will name him Emmanuel which means ‘God is with us’”. After the long wait, God started to become human “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth”. God, leaving the heavenly throne, came down to earth, the footstool for his feet because he loved the world so much. The following story will help us to understand that once we have his Son, we have everything.
If someone will ask the question “when did you fall in love with God?” What would be our answer to this question? Is there a certain time that we fell in love with God or is it a continuous journey with God? Just imagine if we ask the same question to God “when did you fall in love with the world?” what would be his answer? God fell in love with the world the day Adam and Eve disobeyed him and committed sin: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” and this love never ended. God continued to journey with people.
As we reflect on the Readings of today’s Sunday, we come to know that the journey of Divinity to humanity was finally completed in Blessed Virgin Mary when the Angel Gabriel came to her and greeted her in a very solemn way. God’s promise to become human was fulfilled when Blessed Virgin Mary said, “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done according to your Word”. God loved the world so much that he gave his only Begotten Son, so that anyone who believes in him, may have life and life in abundance. Christmas (Nativity of the Lord) is a day where we reflect on the journey of God’s becoming human. The journey which started from becoming divine to human has brought everyone to become God’s children and God is making everyone to become like him because we are all created on the image of God and have received grace upon grace. Do we struggle everyday to become like him? Are we walking in his divinity to allow him to help us to become true image of his love on earth? The following story, which is written by unknown author, will assist us to have better relationship with him who became flesh and dwelt among us.
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.
When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.
About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart, and he died instantly. He often talked about you and your love for art.” The young man held out the package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”
The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home; he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.
On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?” There was silence. Then, a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.” But the auctioneer persisted. “Will somebody bid for this painting. Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?”
Another voice said angrily, “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real art!” But still the auctioneer continued. “The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?”
Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.” Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. “We have $10. Who will bid $20?” “Give it to him for $10. Let us see the masters.” “$10 is the bid. Won’t someone bid $20?”
The crowd was becoming angry. They did not want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!” A man sitting on the second row shouted, “Now let’s get on with the collection!” The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry; the auction is over.” “What about the paintings?”
“I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!”
How do we see God’s love in our life?
Other Sermons In This Series
July 07, 2023
February 08, 2024
October 06, 2023