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4th Sunday of Advent, Year C – Homily

4th Sunday of Advent, Year C
Micah 5:1-4a
Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19 (4)
Hebrews 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-45
December 23, 2018

God loves us. 

John 3:16 tells us that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

Love requires us to be free to choose how we respond to God’s love.  God gives us free will.  We can choose to love God and our neighbor, or we can choose to live life in our own way.

 Yet, in our psalm response today we sang, “Lord, make us turn to you.”  How does this match with having “free will”?  That’s simple.  We use own free will to make our own choices.  When we realize that we have not made good choices we repent.  Sometimes change for the better comes easily.  Other times, we find ourselves stuck in our patterns of sin.  We can’t seem to make the needed changes on our own.  That is when we turn to the Lord for help, asking him to “make us” turn to him. 

It is not God forcing us to change against our will.  That would deny free will.  Rather, it is “faithful surrender” on our part, realizing that God’s way is a better way.

It is not easy to resist sin.  We see repeated cycles of sin and repentance throughout the Old Testament.  We can see in our own lives. 

In the Old Testament sacrifices were offered over and over for the forgiveness of sins.  Those sacrifices were often seen as making up for the sins but how can such sacrifice really make up for sin?  What God was (and is) really looking for was the act of repentance leading to the sacrifice. 

What was needed was a perfect sacrifice, made once for all.  Only one who is perfect, can offer a perfect sacrifice.  That’s why Jesus came.  God prepared a body for his Son to offer it as the one true sacrifice.  Paul reminds us that in offering this sacrifice, Jesus came to do his Father’s Will.

Long had a messiah been promised to the Jews.  The prophet Micah prophesized that the messiah will come from Bethlehem, “too small to be among the clans of Judah.”  God chooses to work through the “small” and humble. 

We are very close to celebrating the birth of our messiah, our savior.  I already mentioned that in the first part of our psalm response today we sang, “Lord, make us turn to you.”  In the second part of the response we sang “let us see your face and we shall be saved.” 

God sent his Son Jesus, conceived in the womb of his mother Mary, the Word made flesh, God incarnate, and born just like us.  Yet, Jesus is consubstantial with his Father.  So, when we see the face of Jesus, we see the face of God.  When we see the face of Jesus, we see our Savior who gives his life on the Cross so that our sins will be forgiven.

God does this because he loves us.  He gains nothing for himself.  God is not made any better himself when we are saved.  Jesus offers the sacrifice of his life on the Cross as an act of love.

Before Jesus freely gave his life for us, he celebrated the Last Supper.  There he gave us the Eucharist, his Body and Blood.  He proclaimed it saying, “this is my body, which will be given up for you…This is my blood which will be poured out for you.”  He unites the Eucharist to his sacrifice on the Cross and tells us to do this in memory of him. 

The Eucharist is the memorial of the death and Resurrection of Jesus.  The Eucharistic Prayer we use today describes the Eucharist as “this pledge of his love…the Sacrifice of perfect reconciliation” that we offer back to God as we celebrate this Mass.

We celebrate Christmas this week.  Perhaps you were expecting me to talk more about Christmas today than I have.  Until now, I haven’t used the word Christmas in this homily.  Yet, what I have talked about is the very purpose of Christmas.  Why was Jesus born?  Jesus was born to be our Savior.  As our Savior, he shows us his love in all he has done for us.

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