December 24, 2017

This fourth and final Sunday of Advent is filled with images of expectation. We hear in our scriptures today the promise to David that the Lord will “raise up your heir after you…and I will make his kingdom firm. I will be a father to him and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever,” and Mary’s faith-filled response of “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” These passages have us waiting in eager expectation to celebrate those promises being fulfilled in Jesus.

This year we will begin our Christmas celebrations tonight (Sunday). As we gather to celebrate the profound love of God made flesh in Jesus, our scriptures will unpack this great mystery. At our Vigil Masses at St. Thomas and St. Joseph, we will hear of the faithful St. Joseph who listens to the voice of an angel and takes Mary into his home, and names this child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus.

At the Mass at Night in all three of our communities, Isaiah will tell us that “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” and St. Paul will reflect that “The grace of God has appeared, saving all…” St. Luke will describe how Jesus was born at a specific place and time and how this revelation of the glory of God will come first to poor shepherds.

On Christmas Day we will hear from a variety of witnesses that we heard from on Christmas Eve. Isaiah, St. Paul and St. John will all tell of this marvelous work of God in the Word-Made-Flesh.

All of these scriptures, from the Fourth Sunday of Advent through Christmas Day, describe a God whose generous love comes among us in flesh and blood and saves us from anything that might be dark or evil in our lives.

We will hear these scriptures in the midst of faith communities that strive to make known this Good News. It is within the communities, gathered in Stevenson, Camas and Vancouver, that the word will go forth once again - the word of joy and hope in the God who is Emmanuel, who is with us.

During these days, we will have an opportunity to gather with brothers and sister who perhaps will be with us for the first time since Easter or last Christmas. We will welcome among us those whose belief may not be as strong as ours. We will have the privilege of hosting people who are searching, trying to find what we have found. This is our opportunity to be good hosts!

May these folks find in our communities, a faith-filled smile, a warm welcome and an experience that will nourish them so that they might get a glimpse of the love we celebrate.

May these coming celebrations draw all of us deeper into the family of God and into the love of the Word Made Flesh. I hope you can enjoy these days, surrounded by family and friends and in the midst of these beautiful, believing communities.

God Bless,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni