Joy, Mercy and Love
Homily for December 18, 2016 Fourth Sunday of Advent - A
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi
Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the land,
People were worried, wringing their hands.
“What should I buy, what should I get?”
Will my expectations of Christmas be met?
Mom in her apron, in a very foul mood,
Worried about cooking, would there be enough food?
Dad, too, was cranky, showing ill-will,
Worried about paying those after-Christmas bills.
And the children were impatient – the girls and the boys,
As they thought only of presents: the gifts, the toys.
But then, what to my blood-shot eyes should appear,
But a choir of angels, with good tidings to share.
“A child will be born in just a few days,
That, if you will let him, can change all your ways.”
“The gifts He will bring are joy, mercy and love,
Sent by the King of Kings from above.”
A week to go to Christmas. Are you ready? Despite some people starting their Christmas shopping as early as September and the big rush to spend money on Black Friday, it is said that this year the busiest shopping days for Christmas are still ahead for us, with next Friday expected to be the busiest of the year. And I wonder – how will all of this last-minute shopping lead us to joy, mercy and love?
In all three readings, we hear about the great Gift that God gave to us at the first Christmas – the gift of His Son, Jesus. It’s a gift that was planned for us from the beginning of time, prophesied by Isaiah, acknowledged by St. Paul confirmed by the angel to Joseph, and the gift does indeed lead us to joy, mercy and love – far more than any present that can be wrapped up and placed under a tree. For the Gift of Jesus not only leads us to joy, mercy and love – Jesus IS Joy, Mercy and Love Incarnate.
But like so many gifts that we receive, this gift comes with Some Assembly Required. And, as with any gift that is of significant value, we must follow the instructions on how to get the most enjoyment out of it, and a commitment to maintain it if it is to remain of value to us.
Commitment. Why is it that we’re willing to commit to large payments for a house or car or other toys, but are afraid to commit where it really counts – the maintenance of the gift of our faith? Is it that we want to keep our options open? If we do commit, is it conditional? What are our priorities? Is our faith more important than any other commitment that we make?
With the beginning of a new year around the corner, now is the time we should be thinking about those New Year’s Resolutions that we hope to begin, and let us start with resolving to cherish the Gift of Jesus in our lives. Make it the priority of your life.
Then, decide what you are going to do to maintain it. Commit to setting aside time every day to read something to grow your faith – not less than 15 minutes, or the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. If you haven’t already, complete a pledge card and commit to supporting your parish financially, every week. Commit to becoming involved in some sort of volunteer organization or project every month, even if it only one day each month. And, an excellent way to jump-start your faith or give it a boost for the new year is by attending the upcoming Men’s or Women’s ACTS retreat.
Make your commitments NOW, before the beginning of the year, so that you’re ready when the time comes. It is the fastest, surest way to Joy, Mercy and Love – the way to Jesus.
Finally, the Gift of Jesus is a gift meant to be shared with others. If we do – if we help others to encounter Jesus through our words and actions – then they too will be filled with the Holy Spirit and the gift of His Joy, Mercy and Love.
If the challenge seems daunting, remember what the angel said to Joseph, “Do not be afraid.”
Will you encounter Jesus at Christmas? Will you commit to assembling and maintaining your relationship with Jesus? Will you bring Jesus to others? I hope so.
And so let us exclaim, as we prepare for this week,
Merry Christmas to all; Jesus comes, whom we seek
– and who indeed seeks us.