4th Sunday of Advent: Do not be afraid… Great Tidings of Joy
Here we are in the fourth and last week of Advent, getting ready for Christmas. I imagine a lot of us are anxiously preparing for the holiday. Even in the church, we’re trying to figure out how to best serve our people with all the different festivities around Christmas. It’s easy to forget what Christmas is all about. It is about our salvation. It is about a God who loves us and who came among us, and we begin to hear the gospel narratives. The narratives all start the same way – with the birth of Jesus.
The Angel said, “DO NOT BE AFRAID”. In fact, “do not be afraid” appears in the scripture 266 times. It is like the Lord knew that we needed to hear it more than once per day. It is good for us to remember that. What does Jesus Christ bring? Jesus Christ brings God. In one of my favorite books “Jesus of Nazareth” by Pope Benedict XVI, he stated Christ came to bring peace, but it seemed that there is not peace in the world. There is still oppression, hardship and political unrest. There are still starving children and there is still me in the midst of my own life and my own conditions. So, what did Jesus bring us – GOD. Jesus brings us God, a God that enters into our reality.
He did not distance himself from us, but comes and acts and walks and talks among us. The joy of the incarnation of Jesus Crist is a mystery that is exclusive to Christianity. Nowhere else is there a God who actually takes on our flesh. When I think about that, it brings me inner peace. It brings me a sense of safety, a sense of security in knowing there is a God who loves me more than I can possibly imagine.
So, this week as Christmas approaches, really allow yourself to encounter that Jesus. Place yourself in these gospel stories. Walk alongside Mary and Joseph. Place yourself in their shoes and feel the same trepidation, the same fear, the same anxiety that they felt. But hear the voice of that angelic messenger coming to me and to you “ DO NOT BE AFRAID FOR I BRING YOU GOOD NEWS AND TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY!”