December 22, 2019 – 4th Sunday of Advent
Click here for the readingshttp://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122219.cfm
Are you also looking for a sign from God?
We usually ask a sign from God to confirm our decisions or to make us confident. We seek God’s sign especially in times of trials and when we begin to doubt Him. I have particularly asked God’s sign if I should be a Redemptorist priest. Many of my friends shared also to me that they too have also tried asking a sign from God when they have to make an important decision in life.
However, what we have heard in the first reading is a different story because it was the Lord who asked a man, Ahaz, the King of Judah to ask a sign so that Ahaz may believe. Ahaz’s story seemed to be very good because he did not ask a sign from God. However, his refusal to ask a sign from God was actually a refusal to believe in God.
Ahaz sold himself to another god, which was to the King of Assyria. He sold himself because he thought that Assyria will only be the one who can grant immediate protection and salvation for him and his kingdom. The kingdom of Judah was under the threat of two other kingdoms. Instead of trusting the Lord to protect and save him, he went to another god.
That is why, it was the Lord himself who offered Ahaz to ask Him a sign so that Ahaz may believe that God will bring salvation. Yet, even though Ahaz refused, God still promised a sign of salvation. This sign is through a virgin who will conceive a son. This son will be called Emmanuel, meaning, God is with us.
This is the sign, that even in the midst of our own disbelief, doubts and even refusal to believe, God remains with us. Yes, God remains our God and continues to be for us and with us. God’s faithfulness in us despite our unfaithfulness, and God’s generosity despite our ingratitude is what our Gospel is conveying to us today on this 4th Sunday of Advent.
We have lighted the 4th candle that symbolizes love. The greatest sign that we have received is the sign of the Emmanuel, the Lord who is with us. This is the very sign that Joseph received in the midst of his confusion, doubts and intrigues surrounding the pregnancy of Mary.
That is why the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help captures beautifully this great sign from God. The Virgin Mary who is carrying the son, the Emmanuel in her arms, is the great sign that God showed to us.
Thus, in this image also, Jesus is in fact the true perpetual help, whom the Father sent to be the greatest sign of his love and compassion to us. Mary is instrumental because through her, God’s sign has been brought to us. She allowed herself to be God’s instrument of help and compassion, to be the mother of the Perpetual Help.
What is it to you and to me now, to us who are about to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, the greatest sign we have received?
You and I are called now to become God’s sign of help and compassion. It means that this Christmas should not only remain a mere devotional practice or a commercial event that encourages consumers to buy more things. However, the spirit of Christmas must flow into our actions and words and into our decisions and choices towards becoming God’s sign of love and compassion for others.
Thus, I would like to invite you to extend your help to someone who is most in need, perhaps your friend, co-worker, relative or even a stranger. Console and give comfort to those who are in pain. Support and promote life and oppose those who destroy it because these are the ways that we will truly become God’s sign. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR