During our Advent journey our common petition was “Lord Jesus, come into our lives, come into our souls and stay with us”. Here we are brothers and sisters celebrating Christmas, officially on Christmas Season. What a blessing to be here. What a blessing that you are here. Over 2000 years ago, in the little town of Bethlehem, a boy was born to a Virgin, Jesus the Christ. That historical event of God becoming a human being brought much joy to the world.
The Gospel of Matthew reminds us that God’s plan of salvation came to fulfillment with Jesus Christ. That is the meaning and the purpose of the genealogy of Christ- that finally with the coming of Christ, everything that was promised to our fathers in faith, the prophets and the kings, came to fulfillment. Matthew reminds us that God’s plan of salvation began with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and was concluded with Joseph, Mary’s husband. Our gathering here this evening connect us, brothers and sisters, with that very moment in which a little boy was born from a virgin and lay on a manger; The Emmanuel, God with us.
One particularity which calls my attention in the genealogy of Christ is the fact that four women are named; Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Mary. The first three women, Tamar, Rahab and Ruth, have some things in common. They were women from other nations and not from Israel. They were widows. They were, therefore, seen as women in disgrace or sinners according to the moral codes of that particular culture. Matthew is making two points here; First, God’s plan of salvation requires human cooperation despite the fact that we are sinners. Second, God’s plan of salvation is not only for one nation but for all nations around the world.
The last woman and the last person in Matthews’s genealogy is Mary; the one who has been chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. She was chosen from the beginning, from her very conception. It was necessary that she would be without sin. Therefore, God sent the Holy Spirit upon her. The Holy Spirit filled her entire humanity with all his gifts, virtues and charisms. She was kept free from sin and temptation through the grace of the Holy Spirit for the rest of her life. She was the chosen one to bear the savior in her chaste womb. We, along with Mary, are invited to accept the message from the angel, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus”. We share in this great joy because he came not only to bring good news to the people of his time; he came to the world to bring good news to all people for all of time.
The Holy Spirit has gathered us here, brothers and sisters, to celebrate Christmas, to celebrate the Emmanuel, God with us. Today we celebrate the feast of God’s poverty, the God who emptied himself and took the form of a slave. Today we celebrate the birth of that God who came and prepared the table of the sacrifice for us, the table of the Holy Eucharist, the same table from which we enjoy this evening; the God who is hidden to arrogant and prideful people and is revealed to the poor and humble of heart. Today we celebrate the birth of the God who came to this world, not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Allow him to be born in your life, allow him to be your God and savior, allow him to be your messiah, allow him to bestow the grace of the Holy Spirit upon you, allow him to bless you and guide you. Declare yourself, with Mary, a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. Do not let the flame of Christmas, the joy of Christmas, and the fulfillment of Christmas be away from you. Christ was born to you the day you accepted him, he was born to you the day you declare yourself his faithful disciple. It is impossible to keep this great joy just for us. Like the shepherds and the Magi we are all called to go out and proclaim his presence among us. Be the messenger of the Christmas’ joy, be the bearer of the Messiah and invite him to be born in the life of many.
Finally, thank you for your prayers, good wishes and Christmas greetings, thank you for coming this evening and making this celebration very special; baby Jesus, make of St. Patrick’s Church during this Christmas Season, a community of reconciliation, a community of unity, a community of peace and a community of love.
From my heart I wish you Merry Christmas!
Rev. Johnson Lopez
Third Sunday of Advent
This weekend we lifted up the rose candle of our Advent Wreath. That is the candle of hope. It is the sign that we are starting the third week of Advent. Therefore, Christmas time is approaching. No doubt that the second week of Advent was memorable. Our mother Mary had a special place in our prayers. Two main Marian celebrations helped and guided our advent pilgrimage; the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
John the Baptist is the other important figure for Advent. John was the one sent by God to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. As we can attest from Sacred Scriptures, John was accomplishing his mission so well that even in Jerusalem people heard about him. From Jerusalem came priests and Levites to ask John, “Who are you?” John certainly is not saying that he is the Messiah. On the contrary, he reveals his identity through his proclamation, “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord’” (John 1:23).
Let us accept John’s invitation to prepare the way of the Lord. Let us stay away from sin. Let us remain watchful in prayer as we continue our spiritual journey to Christmas: so that when we celebrate Christmas, baby Jesus will find a pure heart for his dwelling, free from sin and open to love. May the candle of hope increase your desire to meet Jesus this Christmas Season.
Reflexión 3rd Domingo de Adviento
Este fin de semana encendemos el cirio rosado de nuestra Corona de Adviento. Este es el cirio de la esperanza. Esto quiere decir que comenzamos la tercera semana de Adviento. Por lo tanto, el tiempo de la Navidad está cada vez más cerca. Sin duda alguna la segunda semana de Adviento fue memorable. Nuestra madre María tuvo un lugar especial en nuestras oraciones. Dos grandes celebraciones marianas nos ayudaron en nuestro peregrinar; la Solemnidad de la Inmaculada Concepción y la Fiesta a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.
El otro personaje importante durante este tiempo de Adviento es Juan el Bautista. Juan fue el enviado por Dios para preparar a la gente para la llegada de Jesús. Como podemos testificar en las Sagradas Escrituras, Juan estaba cumpliendo su misión tanto así que aun en Jerusalén se oía a cerca de él. Desde Jerusalén enviaron a los sacerdotes y levitas a preguntarle a Juan, ¿Quién eres tú? Juan ciertamente no se hace pasar por el Mesías, al contrario, el revela su identidad a través de su misión. “Yo soy la voz que grita en el desierto: ‘Enderecen el camino del Señor’” (Juan 1, 23).
Los invito a que aceptemos el llamado de Juan, a que no bajemos la guardia en este tiempo de preparación para la Navidad. Continuemos en oración y alejados del pecado. Para que cuando celebremos la navidad, el niño Jesús encuentre un corazón limpio del pecado y dispuesto a amar. Que el cirio de la esperanza incremente su deseo de encontrarte con Jesús en esta Navidad.
Rev. Johnson Lopez
Father Lopez is Pastor of Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Rochelle, IL.