Reflection for December 2022 (Liturgical Year – Cycle A, Year I)

Community Word: The Nativity of Jesus, our Emmanuel, brings salvation to His people.
Order: “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand … prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Mt 3:2-3)
Reflection:
We are starting the new liturgical year of the Church with the season of Advent. This is a time to celebrate the fulfilment of the promise of the birth of Jesus who was born by a Virgin in a humble manger that was first announced to the shepherds; “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy…. for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” (Lk 2:10-11).
The December Community Word defines the reason for this season – The Nativity of Jesus, our Emmanuel, brings salvation to His people. This signifies and manifests God’s love to mankind. Jesus is our Emmanuel, God-with-us and God for us who fills the earth with love & grace. He comes into the world to transform creation, for He is our Savior!
We are exhorted to devotedly prepare during Advent and for Christmas as expressed by St. Paul: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh,” (Rom 13:14). We are called to focus on Jesus, to examine the preparedness of our hearts and minds to welcome Him, the Light of the world. Do our hearts long for Jesus? Are we expecting the Light that He will bring to our lives? Above all the festive mood and preparations, our priority should be on the person of Jesus Christ.
Let us prioritize our spiritual preparedness in this season and be inspired by this Order – ”Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand…prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths,” (Mt. 3:2-3). Let us be the ones to offer gifts to our Savior, the gift of a clean heart through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to take the extra mile to reach out and share blessings to the poor, the sick, the lonely and hopeless in our society.
We are called by the Lord to be heralds of love, joy, peace, hope and positivity. Through our words and actions, let us be the spreader of Christ’s gospel and as we do, we will hear Jesus say, “Today salvation has come to this house….for the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost,” (Luke 19:9-10). To help us in our preparations, let us reflect on the readings for the month.
The theme for the 1st Sunday of Advent is – Our salvation is at hand when we live in holiness as we prepare for Christ’s coming. “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come,” (Mt 24:42). The unexpected coming of the Lord is unavoidably associated with death. Yes, the Lord comes to us in death, but more importantly the Lord comes to us in life. We must be aware that the Lord comes to us in our day-to-day activities. He comes to us in so many ways – while praying, in worship, while reading the word, in our daily chores, when we serve the poor and the lost. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus tells us, “Whatever you do to the least of your brothers and sisters you do to me.”
Living a life of holiness does not only pertain to the things we do that are seen by men, but more so what those things that are known to God. It comes with our pure intention, the love that we have for our neighbor especially the poor. These actions will confirm our sincere and true love for our Lord. As we do, we are brought to the reflection of this promise, “For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Rom 13:11b).
For the 2nd Sunday of Advent, the theme is – Our salvation is at hand when we truly repent for our sins and bear good fruit. John the Baptist sternly told the Pharisees, “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance,” (Mt 3:8). How can we lead a fruitful life? Being holy and aiming for our salvation should not only be confined towards our own consumption. We must be contagious disciples, meaning Jesus must be known not only to us personally but His love must spread to our neighbors. Fruitfulness is spreading the love and joy that we have received from Jesus, boldly declaring to the world that He is our personal Lord and Savior and that He dwells in our lives. He must be seen alive in us by our transformed ways. The Spirit of the Lord rests upon those who repent. And as the Spirit moves in our midst, we live a renewed life of faith, obedience, humility and justice, this promise becomes evident, “Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace,” (Ps. 72:7).
For the 3rd Sunday of Advent, the theme is – Our salvation is at hand when we joyfully accept Jesus as our Savior. Being a disciple of Christ does not spare us from persecution, rejection, challenges, and struggles. Would this deprive us from being joyful and being at peace? It is in having an intimate relationship with our God and deep faith in Him that will assure us that we have a Savior who will never abandon us. Surrendering our pains and hurts to Him is not easy, but with our decision to do it will give us freedom and we will experience peace in trying times. The promise in Isaiah 35:4b is an assurance for those who joyfully surrender everything to Jesus, our Savior – “Here is your God, He comes with vindication; with divine recompense He comes to save you,” (Is 35:4b).
The theme for the 4th Sunday of Advent is – Our salvation is at hand when we are obedient to God’s will and plan. The readings for this Sunday reminds us to respect and abide in God’s plan and timing. We must trust and rely on the Lord as to where He is directing us. The stories of the Annunciation and the Birth of Jesus are concrete manifestations of God’s amazing plan that eventually brought salvation to mankind. God’s plan is always beyond our thoughts and ways and His timing is beyond our comprehension. We didn’t plan to be in BLD, most of us initially thought that we would not be able to continue attending or undergo the formation program. But we are still here after 25, 30, 35 years. Trusting that these are all part of God’s perfect plan for us, we do not have any regrets, but just be fully grateful for His graces. His promise is always true – “He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God our Savior,” (Ps. 24:5).
Finally, on Christmas Day, our theme is – Our salvation is at hand when we experience God’s fullness of grace. This is the day! This is the culmination day of our preparation. This is the fulfillment of the promise of God – the birth of the Messiah, our Savior is born. He chose to become human because He knew humanity’s greatest need – salvation. He is the Good News and the Word became flesh. The fullness of time came because of God’s great love to mankind. Let’s rejoice and be glad! “All the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God,” (Is 52:10b).
Prayer:
Heavenly Father, our grateful hearts rejoice with the tremendous love that You manifested to mankind by sending Your beloved Son, our Redeemer. You, O Lord, who created everything; You, who have the best plan for all of us, grant us the grace and love in our hearts to spread Your goodness and love to people that we will encounter so they too will proclaim that Jesus is our King and Savior. We pray this in the name of Jesus, Your Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the loving intercession of our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph. Amen.
Readings:
November 27, 2022 – Is 2:1-5/ Ps 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9/ Rom 13:11-14/ Mt 24:37-44
December 4, 2022 – Is 11:1-10/ Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17/ Rom 15:4-9/ Mt 3:1-12
December 11, 2022 – Is 35:1-6A, 10/ Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10/ Ja 5:7-10/ Mt 11:2-11
December 18, 2022 – Is 7:10-14/ Ps 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6/ Rom 1:1-7/ Mt 1:18-24
December 25, 2022 – Is 52:7-10/ Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6/ Heb 1:1-6/ Jn 1:1-18

 
 

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