FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
(Violet) Cycle A/Year I (December 18, 2016)
Is 7:10-14/Rom 1:1-7/Mt 1:18-24
There is a story about an Indian tribe whose way of knowing whether the boy is matured is leaving him at midnight in a very dark forest. One day, when a certain boy came to his age of maturity, he was brought blindfolded at night to the darkest part of the forest. There, he was left alone after his blindfold was removed. He had to stay there the whole night until morning without screaming or crying so that he could be accepted as an adult in his tribe. The night was very dark and frightening sounds of animals and insects surrounded the forest. The boy was very afraid as he knew that some wolves and snakes were just near him. Even though he was trembling in fear, he did his best not to cry or scream until the sun arose. Then he looked around and was shocked when he saw his father standing not far from behind him, in a position ready to shoot arrows in case any snake or wild beast might bring his son any harm.
The promised Messiah was given the name Emmanuel by the prophet (Isaiah) as mentioned in the gospel for this Sunday. Emmanuel comes from a Hebrew word which means “God is with us” (Mt 1:23). This is how the Evangelist Matthew began his gospel, by demonstrating that the coming of the Messiah means the presence of God with His people. Matthew ended his gospel with Christ commissioning His apostles and promising to them His constant presence: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20b). With these biblical passages, Matthew wanted to tell all of us Christians that the Messiah born of the Virgin Mary was meant to give the presence of God to all of us until the end of time.
Jesus Christ, the Emmanuel, is the presence of God to us because He is the Son of God and is therefore God. God’s presence to us in Jesus Christ is an everlasting presence of love, providence and protection. Jesus Christ never abandons us even though He already ascended into heaven. He continues to live with and be present to us through the Gospel, the Sacraments and the Church. He is present to us in the Church’s ministers especially when they celebrate the Sacraments, in particular, the Holy Eucharist. But He reminds us of His special presence in every needy as He said: “Whatever you do to the least of these brethren, you do it to me.”
In times of trials and sufferings, we should never doubt the presence of God in us. The story of the Indian boy in the dark forest must remind us that God never abandons us and that He is always ready to protect us and to grant us our needs because all of us are His children in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. Jesus died on the cross for us and for our salvation. He sacrificed His life so that we who were dead to sin might live into new life as children of God.
As we await and prepare for the birth of Jesus on Christmas day next Sunday, let us empty our hearts, minds and lives with all the iniquities that can hinder the birth of Jesus into our lives. He is present to us but He wants to be more present and closer to us on Christmas day by being born into our hearts. May we now repent, confess our sinfulness and do away with our vices to give place to Jesus in our hearts. And may we then live the teachings of Jesus and the message of Christmas that Christ is always with us and never abandons us especially in the hour of our needs for God so loves us as His children.