Pastoral Message – December 24, 2023
Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent y’all!
As the year of our Lord 2023 winds down, maybe you’ve already gotten a calendar for 2024. (I just got one as a gift. It has pictures of goats in trees on it. That’s why I’m thinking about calendars and trying to forget about goats in trees. Google it. I guess goats in trees is a thing?!?)
Anyway, calendars represent time; in years, seasons, months, weeks and days. The same is true in our Roman Catholic Church calendar. But in our Church calendar a week is not always a week. For example, this year, because of moveable feasts and lunar cycles, the fourth week of Advent this year is exactly one day long – if you define a day as from sunset to sunset. But if you define a day as a 24 hour period from 12 Midnight to the next 11:59 PM, the 4th Week of Advent is approximately 16 hours long. We’re celebrating the 4th Week of Advent on December 23 starting at 4 PM Mass, and continuing with the Sunday Masses in the morning on December 24. We’ll do a quick change with the decorations and Christmas Masses start only 3 hours later, at 4 PM!
Even if that 4th Week of Advent is short, that doesn’t mean that this last Sunday of Advent should be diminished or discarded! Just the opposite! We should pay particular attention to the theology of the Sunday readings. That theology tells us that God keeps his promises. The Old Testament, with it’s history marked in time by the lives of patriarchs, the reigns of kings and kingdoms, and the rise and fall of empires, gives way to the timeless reign of Jesus, the Christ. With the birth of Jesus, the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God is revealed and a New Testament is born. The frailty of fallen, bygone human days gives way to the strength of eternal hope and love.
One more funny thing about the Church’s calendar, while we celebrate liturgical seasons and remember past Saints with our calendar, our calendar will gladly become obsolete when Christ comes again and time will be no more and all will have eternal life in Christ. Advent has us think beyond Christmas and beyond our calendars to that Day of the Lord.
So in these last hours of Advent, let’s get ready for Christmas! Certainly! But let’s also take a prayerful moment to thank God, our Father, for the blessing that has led us through the seasons of our lives, really our own person “advents”, which bring us to the grace and peace we know through the Holy Spirit, showing us the salvation given for all by Jesus, the Christ.
God bless you and yours!