SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle B By Fr. Efren Jimenez, OFM

Its three days before Christmas! Who would not be touched by such a great mystery! A time to marvel at the greatness and beauty of everything pulsating with life! What amazes us, however, is how we cease to marvel at, and take for granted, the most marvelous event to shake human history. Both John and Luke summed it up passionately, “God so love the world that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have life eternal.” (Jn. 3:18) And Luke in today’s Gospel,” He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.”(Lk. 1:32)

“God so loved the world.” Its awesome. Many of us have a fearsome idea of God, the “God who appeared to Moses in thunder,” yet…can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should have no compassion for the son in her womb? Even these you may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have graven you on the palms of my hand.” (Isa. 49:14-16).

This is the same God whom John declares: “Beloved let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knowsGod. In this is love, not that we loved God but that God loved us.” (1 Jn 4:7-10)

The God who is love gave us a gift, not a lifeless thing, silver or gold; a person, not an angel; God gave us God’s only Son. Sweat, if you can, make an act of love, an act of faith, understandable, believable. God gave you and me, Jesus, His very Son.

“Gave!” How paltry a monosyllable! The gift was a baby shivering in straw! The gift was the Son of the Most High and the child of a Jewish mother. The gift was a young man who scuffed the dust of Palestine from one end to the other because, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me: He anointed me to preach the good news to the poor…sight to the blind, to set at liberty the oppressed.” (Lk 4:18)

A gift – the whole package. A gift because we had no claim on Christ, did not deserve him. A gift because he was born for you and me, lived and died and rose for you and me.

And He made it clear, he came that we might have life fully. He came that we might have hope in this world darkened by greed and selfishness. He became the WORD (VERBUM DEI) that we might have life in Him – and light amidst darkness in our human world.

Once, a Protestant martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “Grace that comes cheap, grace that keep us ever so comfortable, will never redeem this sin scared earth. Only costly grace can do that – the WORD that engulfs humanity to the heart of God!”

Blessed Christmas to all!

Sometime in 2000, I took this shot of a young Jewish lad, Son of an Orthodox Jew, in front of our Church of St. Peter in Jaffa, near Telaviv City. Notice how he is clad in their traditional garment, wearing “Tipa” (Skullcap) on his head and phylacteries on his waist.

He was peering through outside the iron fence – similar to our grilled fence here at our church. He was kind of curious to see inside our church. He was meek looking and was willing to have his picture taken after I asked hispermission.

As Christmas draws near, we remember the baby Jesus, a Jew like him.
I put these words on the boys lips:

Free me from my TRADITIONS . .
Untie me from the bondage of my religion. YOU ARE THE KING OF ISRAEL!

About Fr. EJ and his reflections.