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WORD FOR MISSION
Missionary reflection  on Sunday Liturgy

Every week EUNTES.NET offers to lay, religious people and priests an itinerary of reflections on the Sunday Liturgy in a missionary prespective. These are elements for a missionary meditation, individual or in community, on the Word of God , which constantly and surprisingly continues to enlighten, strengthen and sustain the missionary journey of the Church, for the life of the World


Let us enjoy and announce the wonder of the Christmas
 
IV Sunday of Advent
Year A - 18.12.2016

 

Isaiah  7:10-14
Psalm  23
Romans  1:1-7
Matthew  1:18-24
 
Reflections
After 2000 years, Christmas continues to amaze us  -at least that’s how it should be!-, because Christmas is always new, it’s like the first, it’s the feast of life. It is a celebration of when God began to live in human flesh. To the joy and salvation of all! Since then, “caro salutis est cardo” (the flesh is the basis of salvation), as Tertullian already said in 3rd century: God’s salvation passes through Christ’s flesh, the only Saviour. The invitation is to experience Christmas with the wonder of the early protagonists: Mary and Joseph (Gospel), the angels, the shepherds and the Magi. Living the truth of Christmas is a gift that puts us in the reality of things! People open to the newness of God’s surprises and not prisoners of habits. We are beyond short-lived gifts or plans for Christmas holidays. Far from the indifference of those who live alienated among things. Without the self-sufficiency of those who proclaim themselves non-believers. Especially, without the raging and cruel envy of Herod and without the multifaceted cruelty of his present successors.

 The God who comes is the Emmanuel, already announced by Isaiah (1st Reading, v. 14) and by the Gospel of Matthew: the “God with us” (v. 23). The God who has decided to be present in the history of each person, to walk with each one of us. To live Christmas involved in the wonder of a God madly in love with us, cannot leave us indifferent, but it brings us to the missionary proclamation of this true story to people who don’t know about it, or only know very few about it. Christmas is a way of being, it’s an important message to take to others. That’s how St. Daniel Comboni lived it during his first journey to Africa in 1857, when he went as a pilgrim to Bethlehem; there he felt taken in by the magnitude of that mystery: “I kissed that place a thousand times. I kissed almost the entire grotto; and didn’t know how to remove myself from it…” (Writings, n. 113).

 

That’s how it was understood by St. Paul (2nd Reading), who, after the surprise of having encountered Christ, he surrendered to Him completely and became the greatest missionary. He says it clearly at the beginning of the letter he wrote to the Christians of Rome. “From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle and especially chosen to preach the Good News of God” (v. 1:1). Paul presents here his identity card to the Romans with impressive credentials, which he sums up in three words: servant, apostle, chosen. He is above all a servant of Jesus Christ: he is pleased to be possessed by Him, he speaks of Him to all and at all times, he mentions Him 4 times just in the first initial verses. He is aware of being an apostle, that is one who is sent: mission is not borne and does not depend on him but on Someone greater than he is, of whom he is a mere servant. Finally, Paul considers it a grace to be regarded as an apostle, chosen “to preach the obedience of faith to all the pagan nations” (v. 5). The Christian life is a gift before being a task to be performed; a charisma that enriches those who receive it and it enables them for a service to the community.

 

St. Paul takes often up each of these three titles and comments on them. He feels himself a missionary of Christ in the marvellous richness of His mystery: promised by the prophets, born of the seed of David according to the flesh, proclaimed Son of God through his resurrection from the dead (v. 2-4). Paul felt that he had been discovered by Christ, loved, saved, sent to the pagan peoples to proclaim “the infinite treasure of Christ” (Eph 3,8). On the road to Damascus, Paul was not only born as a Christian, but also as an apostle, a missionary. He did not change his life for an ethical or personal decision, or to follow a fashionable ideology, but just because he met Christ who permanently changed his life by opening new horizons to him.  (*)  Paul is an example for every Christian and every missionary! Also this year Christmas needs messengers: to reach those who are far away and do not yet know it, those who have gone astray, those who have taken a wrong path. Among them there are possibly some relatives, friends, colleagues… Whether here, near us, or far away. To become Christmas’ messengers is an urgent, passionate and joyful task for each one of us! Let us experience it. We are all invited!

 

The Words of the Pope

(*)  I never tire of repeating those words of Benedict XVI which take us to the very heart of the Gospel: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Thanks solely to this encounter with God’s love… we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being. Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization. For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?

Pope Francis
Apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (2013) n. 7-8
 
(*)  In the paths of the Missionaries
- 18/12: 4th Sunday of Advent.
- 18/12: International Day for Migrant Labourers (ONU, 1990).
- 21/12: St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597), Dutch Jesuit, theologian at the Council of Trent, a leader of the Catholic Reformation in Central Europe, author of a Catechism; he is a Doctor of the Church.
- 21/12: Remembrance of the homily of Fr. Antonio de Montesinos, a Spanish Dominican, held on the IV Sunday of Advent of 1511, in the church of “La Española” (Dominican Republic), in defence of the rights of the natives: “Aren’t these perhaps human beings?”
- 22/12: S. Frances Xavier Cabrini (Lodi 1850- Chicago 1917), foundress of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to work among the migrants, for whom she realised many works.
- 23/12: St. John of Kety (1390-1473), Polish priest and theologian, teacher of generations of priests, parish priest, a model of prayer and charity.
- 23/12: St. Marie Marguerite of Youville (1701-1771), a Canadian laywoman from Quebec, mother of family. After her husband died, she became a nun and foundress.
- 25/12: The Birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, the Son of God in human flesh, the Saviour of the whole human family. It is a news of great joy to the whole world (see Lk 2:10).


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Prepared by Fr. Romeo Ballan  - Comboni Missionary

Translated by Fr. Henry Redaelli, MCCJ
Website:  www.euntes.net  “The Word for Mission
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WE WISH TO ALL OF YOU ABUNDANT GIFTS FROM THE DIVINE CHILD
Happy Christmas and Happy new Year 2017 !