December 23, 2012 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
We have arrived at the Fourth Sunday in Advent — the last Sunday before Christmas. The nativity of the Christ child is imminent and the readings remind us of the promises of God and of the way that Jesus was to enter the world.
The first reading from the Book of Micah predicts what Jesus, the Messiah, will do on earth: “He will take his stand and he will shepherd them with the power of Yahweh, with the majesty of the name of his God, and they will be secure, for his greatness will extend henceforth to the most distant parts of the country.” Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, the second reading, demonstrates Jesus’ understanding of the prophecy, and His commitment to fulfilling the prophecy: “Here I am, I am coming, in the scroll of the book it is written of me, to do your will, God.”
It is important that we understand this commitment. Living as a steward requires a commitment, a willingness to perhaps make sacrifices, maybe not to the extent of Jesus, but certainly as a sign of our trust in God and our understanding that we are indeed called.
Nonetheless, it is in the Gospel that we see the true nature of stewardship. This reading is included on this last Sunday of Advent first of all to bring us to the edge of the birth of Christ, which is literally only hours in the future. The Gospel reading from Mark is an accounting of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. It is what Elizabeth says that points to Mary as the perfect steward. “Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” From the moment the angel was before Mary, and she said “Yes” to God, Mary became not only our Blessed Mother, the Mother of God, but she also became an example to us of the ultimate steward. Her faith and trust in God was complete and comprehensive, and truly “Blessed is she among women.”
Throughout this Advent season we have been preparing for the arrival of the Christ child, but we have also been spiritually preparing for our own answers and our own responses to the questions and calling of God. Are we prepared to say, “Yes?” Are we prepared to give of ourselves in ways that serve others, that show our love for our neighbor, that capture that “spirit of Christmas?”
For you see, Christmas is not a day, not even a season — it is a total way of life. Living every day as if it is Christmas — reaching out to those in need every day, not just at certain times of the year — always having that warm and satisfying feeling of contentment that may be part of this special time of year — is exactly what it means to be a good steward.
Look at the faces of the children — they reflect how we should all feel at this time of year. Charles Dickens, the author of A Christmas Carol, once said, “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its Mighty Founder was a child Himself.”