4th Sunday of Advent: Taking God into our Home
Written by Geralyn Tan for Keeping Company. 2013.
The coming of Christ invites a response of hospitality and welcome, something that is present in every journey. We have come to the fourth and final installment in our Advent retreat. This week’s reflection, to use the journeying motif again, looks at the stage of homecoming. In any journey out, we rely on the hospitality of others to give us food, accommodation or company. But when we return, hospitality and homecoming to ourselves are just as important.
Consider for a moment, your identity as a person of faith in God, in light of the following verses from the Second Reading (Romans 1:1-7):
Through him we have received the grace of apostleship,
to bring about the obedience of faith,
for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles,
among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.
Keeping this in mind and heart, listen to O Come, Emmanuel as performed by The Piano Guys.
In the First Reading, Isaiah prophesies the coming of the one named Emmanuel. We are told the meaning of the name in Matthew’s gospel – God-with-us. Through the birth of the baby Jesus, God enters physically and bodily into our world.
God wants to be part of our world. God wants to be part of us. How do we welcome God into our homes, into our hearts?
The Christmas rush is upon us but there is still time to throw off the cloak of darkness and put on the light, which is to live according to the gospel of love. There is still time to bring about the peaceable kingdom where justice and peace reigns. In this Sunday’s gospel, we hear that Joseph wanted to divorce Mary quietly (because she was pregnant by another), that is, in private and out of the public eye, sparing both of them too much humiliation. Are we courteous with one another, especially our next of kin? What about the people we welcome into our homes over the Christmas season? And what about those we include even after the festivities have wound down?
Recall the apprehension of Mary in the reflection for the First Sunday. Though unnerving, Mary and Joseph set out on the journey, modelling for us to do the same, while with the assurance of following in the light of God. Now in the Fourth Week, the name and nature of God is proclaimed. God is with us, God is for us and God wants to remain with us for eternity.
As we end this retreat, we do so with gratitude for our time together in prayer and sharing. We continue to ask for God’s graces throughout the coming days as we prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord.