Fourth Sunday in Advent

Homily – Sunday, the 18th December 2022

Christmas Story from Leo Tolstoy- Papa Panov’s Special Christmas

The village shoemaker who stayed alone wanted to see Jesus at Christmas time.

On the previous day he opened the Bible and read of the baby having no place and sighed Had they come here I would have given them my room

He read of the magi and asked himself what gift he would give

In the night, he had a dream, Jesus promised him he would come on Christmas day

He looked for a small pair of shoes, his small blanket and was excited

On the cold Christmas morning the street cleaner was sweeping by. He invited him over for a hot cabbage soup

In the afternoon a young mother was passing by. He invited her to warm herself and fed the child with some hot milk

He then gave the little shoes to the child

In the evening was an elderly man very cold and he invited him in and gave his blanket

He waited for Jesus and Jesus did not come

At night he had the dream again

Jesus said I did come. I was cold and you gave me a hot soup. I was hungry and you gave me food and shoes for my cold feet. I was shivering and you gave me your blanket

The little you do for the least of these you did unto me

The story ends thus

So he did come after all

A quick reading of the gospel passage from Matthew gives us some very important insights

The Story of Christmas is about a child and a young mother

God’s Children are all miracles

Every Child is a Miracle full of possibilities

Every child you meet is a Divine Encounter

Infancy narratives always points at possibilities of each new life.

It was not easy for the mother. Engaged and excited about her dreams for the future there comes the divine intervention and she realises that she was bearing a child. The righteous man to whom she was betrothed decides to secretly get rid of her without exposing her to public disgrace. The angel of the Lord intervenes and Joseph decides to embrace Mary without any conjugal relations.

Surely not easy for that mother

Then the journey all the way to Bethlehem. On a donkey through the bumpy roads.

Surely not easy.

And in that far away land when time came for the child birth- there is no room in the inn

Surely not easy

And then all the public gaze of angels and shepherds and the magi

Surely not easy

And then the difficult plight as a refugee to save the child’s life

Surely not easy

There are several children at risk around us today even at this Christmas time

Children trafficked

Child labourers

Child slaves

Child soldiers

Children and Mothers in crisis

The infancy narrative gives us strength and resolve- Don’t give up hope

The one who is born is the Savior of Humanity

He shall be called Immnauel- God with Us

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day

Christmas reminds us never underestimate the possibilities of a child

The Story of Christmas is about God’s ways which are out of the box

God’s Ways are many a times out of the box

We could ask several pertinent questions

Why a virgin?

Why such a birth?

Why a manger?

Why a conception of the Spirit?

Why was Joseph thinking of leaving her behind?

Why did Joseph agree to do as the angel commanded?

Why was he called Saviour?

Why was he called Immanuel?

The Messiah or the Savior could have been expected to be born in the palace and in contexts of richness and safety- But why is the vulnerability associated with the narrative.

God’s Ways are many a times out of the box.

Things might not happen the way we think it should happen but if we submit to the will of God the manifestations of God’s possibilities could be beyond what our thinking can comprehend.

We are often times disturbed when the general rhythm of life is affected one way or the other

We are used to a routine that we expect need be followed

We have set notions of life and even of how the life of the church should be modelled

But Christmas reminds us that God works out of the box sometimes but each of those working is part of a divine choreography- a whole that we know only in parts.

The Story of Christmas is about God’s impeccable Timing

God’s Timing is Always Impeccable- Never Too Early, Never Too Late

The Chronos and Kairos understanding of Time is something humanity has always struggled with

Chronological sequence of time counted by the hour minute and second is not exactly the concept of God’s opportune timing

We are where we are at this particular time because of a much deeper plan of God.

When Shakespeare wrote- Better three hours too soon than a minute late showing forth a cultural mindset on time, But Aldous Huxley reminded us that time is a very recent invention- a by product of industrialisation. He reminds us “The time of which we have knowledge is artificial, machine-made time. Of natural, cosmic time, as it is measured out by sun and moon, we are for the most part almost wholly unconscious.”

And beyond that is the Divine Timing. God’s most opportune timing

When you think about the success you desire, don’t forget that God’s “not yet” doesn’t mean ‘not ever.

You and I face a huge question: Do we trust God to do in his own timing what only God can do?”

The story of Christmas is about God’s sublime plans

God’s Plans are often too sublime

Hard Choices are sometimes part of God’s Majestic Plan

Submission to a greater plan than what was conceptualised is not easy as we think about it.

Mary and Joseph had their own dreams about their life

But into their dreams came in the larger plan of God

They would have thought of romantic small family life

But God had a much deeper plan for their life, for their family

Christmas reminds us of this deeper plan of God in our lives.

Sometimes the plans we have need not necessarily be God’s plans.

As Esther was reminded- Perhaps you are here for such a time as this

Matthew is pointing towards a plan that the prophets had foretold

Matthew is presenting a punctiliar point in history that could impact every aspect of the future

God’s plans are sublime

Christmas reminds us of the beauty of God’s larger plan for humanity and all of creation as a whole and for each one of us as individuals and as a community in particular.

The Story of Christmas is about ordinary angels

Have you seen angels?

Have you been an angel?

Outside the pastry shop stood a poor orphan boy gazing at the Christmas Cakes

A soft had made him look backwards

There was a grandma and a little girl

They had a pastry box with them

And they said- This is for you

He ran to shelter to share the cake with his friends

They asked- Where did you get it

He said- God send it through his angels

How did they look like

One was a little girl and the other was a granny looking one

But grace was radiating in their eyes

The word angel just means- messengers

The communicate the love of God is many different ways

The Christmas story is all about angels

Many angels

Ordinary interventions in the lives of people

Divine interventions  in the lives of ordinary people

You and I called to be angels

You are I called to recognise the angels coming to us a messengers of God

Vinod Victor

18th December 2022

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