Sunday, December 23, 2012
4th Sunday of Advent
First, a quiz. Where can we find the opening prayer from today’s Mass in a Catholic devotion? I’ll give you a hint. The prayer is: “Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.”
This is the closing prayer of the Angelus, which is traditionally prayed at 6:00am, noon and 6:00pm. It is a prayer that reminds us of the realities of Christmas on a daily basis. Check it out on google.com.
There are few experiences in life more joyful than the husband and wife who find out they have successfully conceived a life. Two of my best friends (who married each other) had somewhat of a challenge achieving pregnancy and I’ll never forget that phone call with the good news.
We have a touching narrative this morning centered on two pregnant women. Mary, pregnant with the baby Jesus, visits her cousin Elizabeth—pregnant with John the Baptist. “When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb…” John prophesied for the first time in his mother’s womb!
It is fitting to reflect on John the Baptist on this fourth Sunday of Advent as Christmas is only a couple of days away. First, we read from the letter to the Hebrews: “He takes away the first to establish the second.” Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament—the first—and establish the second—His covenant of love. John the Baptist announces the coming of this new covenant.
For centuries, the prophets announced the coming of the Messiah in veiled and shadowy terms. John the Baptist, the first prophet of the New Testament, pointed directly to Christ Himself: “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
In so doing, John the Baptist fulfilled our Responsorial Psalm: “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.” For John the Baptist, it was all about Jesus. He put all attention on Christ and exhorted the crowds to “Repent and believe!” He even said, “He must increase, I must decrease.”
As Christmas is only a few hours away, may we follow the example of John the Baptist as he leapt in his mother’s womb for joy at the coming of Christ. In our own hearts, souls, and dare I say—our bodies—may we, too, leap for joy in this great reality.