From Father Swales
My Homily for 4th Sunday in Advent
Praised be Jesus Christ!
In just a few days, we will celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. When we do, in normal times, this church building would perhaps be fuller than at any other time of the year. It is good that so many people in normal times would come to welcome the new-born Jesus.
Those of us here today can enrich our spiritual preparation for Christmas by asking ourselves why the many people who usually come to our churches at Christmas stay away for the rest of the year.
May I suggest it is because they feel torn inside. On one hand, they feel drawn to the baby Jesus, God so gentle and kind, so eager to befriend them that he makes himself small. But on the other hand, they are afraid. They are afraid that if they really make a commitment to Jesus then they will have to follow his commandments and teachings. And those teachings are not popular. Jesus is pro-life, but our culture is not. It is pro-living but not pro-life. Jesus lived in humility and simplicity - our culture suffers from unbridled materialism. Jesus was truthful - our culture is riven with deception. Jesus was faithful - our culture tends to superficiality.
Maybe, our neighbours are torn - they feel Jesus tugging at their heart, but the tug of our secular culture is as strong, if not stronger. They fear that if they follow Jesus, it will be impossible to be happy, because they will have to give up things that our culture says are necessary for happiness. However, today the Church is reminding us, through the angel's words to Mary "Nothing will be impossible with God." God can do all things, and no matter what we may give up in order to live in friendship with him, he will give us much, much more.
Perhaps we are all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom?"
On the contrary If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. In this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. In this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. In this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation.
The example of Our Lady’s life guides us here in her acceptance of God’s plan. Her open and pure heart mirrored in her perpetual virginity gives us all a pattern for our lives. A life encompassed by friendship with and within God. Here in the Gospel of the Annunciation she opened her heart and life to God and his great plan flourished. At the other end of the story as she stood at the foot of the cross Jesus gives her, through St John, to be our mother. Just as a mother nurtures and brings for the life. So too she, the mother of the church and of us all, will nurture and help bring forth the divine life in us.
May the Divine life of the Son of the Father flourish in us and be nurtured by the intercession of she who is the Mother of God and of us all.
Praised be Jesus Christ!