Fourth Sunday of Advent (B)
How wise is God? Is His wisdom measurable in tests? Should we rather ask: how wise are we when even in tests we fail and in life we crumble? What kind of wisdom do we possess?
1. Many people are so proud of what they know that when they say something they think it is the only right thing or the only right way to say it. When they see something nice in somebody or in some place, they should get something better. Whatever people have or whatever others say, they always have something better.
When God came into the world, He came into a place, into a human culture and learned the language of a people. In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul wrote,
though he was in the form of God, (He) did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross (2: 6-8).
In the same passage, St. Paul continues, “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5).
When we come to a place, we need to learn and live the culture of the people living there. When we come into a friend’s house, we don’t just do what we like to do. We try to learn what the family does. When we come to God, we need to learn God’s culture, the culture of life and holiness. We need to obey His commands. We need to seek Him, and only Him, in all things and in all peoples. Then, we will never be wanting. As the Psalmist proclaims, “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” (Ps 23: 1).
2. When God created man in His image and likeness, eternity invaded time. God came into a world of time. And in time, because of man’s sinfulness, man had to be redeemed. So God became man.
Amazing! And so we ask: what in the world is God doing? There’s only one reason, and the reason is on the side of God. St. John tells us the reason:
For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (3: 17).
And this is what St. Paul is telling us today:
To him who can strengthen you…. according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings…. to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever” (Rom 16: 25-27).
3. Our salvation will only be based on obedience to the Word of God, Jesus. It is not obedience because of absolute submission or because we don’t have free will; in fact, we were created with intellect and free will. This obedience will only have its saving effect when done in a relationship of love. Outside this relationship of love, it becomes abusive, selfish and senseless. Jesus said to His disciples:
As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete (Jn 15: 9-11).
Why did Jesus have to suffer and die? Because He loves us. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 13).
4. Life is not an easy situation, but never too difficult in Jesus. So we come to the Eucharist: to be nourished, to be strengthened, and to be loved, so that we can also love and strengthen our families and our community. To the faithful, the Angel will also proclaim: “Do not be afraid…. for you have found favor with God” (Lk 1: 30).