Last week, before Mass Fr John and I were remembering Nativity plays from schools. I told him about one I had read about years earlier, where a young man was devastated not to have been given the part of Joseph, he thought he had been promised in the play, and instead given the part of an Innkeeper. He had no lines, instead all he had to do was shake his head and slam a door closed when Joseph asked if there was a room. The big night came along, the school was full of parents and other children and his moment arrived, Joseph asked if he had a room, and the Innkeeper replied, “Come in! We have plenty of rooms”.

In today’s Scriptures we hear God make a promise and fulfil that same promise centuries later. If we remember when David was called by God to be king of Israel, he wasn’t thought to be worthy enough by his family to be present when the prophet Samuel was sent to Jesse to choose one of his sons to be king. David was left out in the fields as the youngest son. But God chose him to be king of His Chosen People. Likewise, Mary was a lowly virgin from a town hardly on the map, when the angel Gabriel was sent to her to ask her to be the Mother of God; and eventually Queen of Heaven. This is a reminder to us that God does not call the able, He enables the called.

Nothing is impossible to God, He created everything around us, He created us and as we know, He created us in his own image and likeness. As we have heard frequently in recent months, God’s way is not man’s way. So, when God was choosing a King, he did not do it in a way that men would typically do it. History has shown us that mankind traditionally choose mighty warriors or manipulative families or sometimes a combination of both to rule over the people. This was not God’s way. Instead, God chose the youngest child, a shepherd boy to be king; and then told him that his family would rule forever. When that promise was fulfilled, the king who would rule forever was not born in a palace, or to a ruling family, but to a lowly maiden, betrothed to a man from the house of David.

“Imagine the pregnant pause before Mary’s ‘yes’. So much tilling of the soil: her Immaculate Conception, her childhood formation as a Jewish girl, her pondering and discerning. All of this preparation hung in the balance, waiting for her consent.

Do we honour consent with the same reverence as our Creator?” 1

Christmas Day is right around the corner; most of our preparations for the big day are almost complete. We may have family visiting or we may be going to visit. Gifts are wrapped, children are getting really excited, sometimes this can mean being with people we don’t see very often and there may well be reasons behind that.

Have we prepared for that?

What are we going do to, to ensure we can all have a peaceful Christmas?

Not forgetting have we prepared spiritually for Christmas?

How is our relationship with Jesus today?

Like most other years my preparations during Advent have meant an absence of social media for me. I step back from these things in order to spend more time in prayer or in reading. The truth this year is, that apart from adding the Office of the Day to my normal Morning Prayer, I haven’t replaced my time on social media with meaningful relaxation, but with trivial things. I need to get better at organising my time and how I spend my “down time” in particular. Especially if I want to practice what I preach.

Tomorrow, when we wake up, we will celebrate the birth of Our Saviour, we must also remember how He saves us, and that was by His unflinching obedience to Our Father. He lowered Himself from His Heavenly home, to become like us; so that He can raise us to become like Him and we can be with Him forever. Yes, we remember The Nativity of Our Lord, but we need to be prepared for when He comes again to judge us and separate the goats from the sheep.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Fourth Sunday of Advent

CCC 484-494: the Annunciation
CCC 439, 496, 559, 2616: Jesus is the Son of David
CCC 143-149, 494, 2087: the “obedience of faith”

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
  • The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine and Russia.
  • Those who are working at Christmas to keep other people safe, whether they are drivers, nurses, doctors, carers, emergency responders or military, the unseen heroes who keep our lights on and our water and gas supplies flowing, the food delivery people providing a lifeline to the housebound. Those working in prisons.
  • Those volunteering to help others at this time.
  • Those who are alone this Christmas.
  • Those imprisoned and their families who will not be together this Christmas.

1 2024 Sourcebook, [Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago, Illinois, 2023]26