Advent IV

For the Third Sunday in Advent, I reflected on the joy inherent in the Christmas promises, as we look to the past, present and future. Then some two days later I was felled by a bacterial infection that kept me in bed for the next five days, unable to do much beyond sleep, take my antibiotics and drink a little ginger ale. I was not able to reflect much on the readings for today or to think about much at all.  There are so many sorts of healing needed by all of us, physical, spiritual, mental and emotional, but all of our weaknesses make us vulnerable. To put it bluntly, I hate being physically sick. I hate feeling weak and alone and, frankly, useless. All I did was lay there for five days when I could have been grading, or decorating, or buying Christmas presents or...something!

What an incredible choice God made to come into the world as an infant. Vulnerable, weak, helpless, dependent: what precisely can a baby do? God chose to share our humanity from the beginning, sanctifying every age as (I believe) Irenaeus said, and joining us in solidarity. Thanks be to the God who came to us as we are, who knows us in our strength and our weakness, who loves us for who we are and not for what we can do. As it is, the greatest gift is love, and that is available to all, regardless of their station, age or ability in life, to give and to receive, and it is the gift that God gave to us in the person of his son, born as a vulnerable child. May your Christmas be filled with the love of God and that of your family and friends.

John W. Martens

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