22 December, Sunday – Love

22 Dec 2019 – 4th Sunday of Advent

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Isaiah 7:10-14

The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’
Then Isaiah said:

‘Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’

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Romans 1:1-7

From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.

This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David: it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead.

Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name. You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ.

To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.

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Matthew 1:18-24

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.

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Look! The virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’.

As we welcome the 4th week of Advent, we are ever much closer to welcoming the birth of Christ once again in our lives and in our hearts. Today’s readings give us the insight of who Christ is and how he came to be, but especially in our lives today, what are we truly celebrating this Christmas? Who is this Christ that we are welcoming?

Recently, I had to do some research about a mental disorder. I had the opportunity to reflect on how we would type in our Google searches along the lines of how to cure/cope/overcome this mental disorder. We want to quickly see if there’s any chance that we can get rid of the thorn in one’s flesh that is becoming a thorn in our own. But before I could complete typing out the search, the suggested searches appeared and I was quick enough to see the notion of how it was more towards how I could love that person with this mental disorder.

For me, this is what this welcoming is all about, what the preparation of the coming of Christ is all about. Christ was born to us, not to lead the smoothest and happiest life that He could, but He had a mission — a calling, a purpose. Paying the highest price and his life, the sacrifice, He did it with love.

As we celebrate this week, dedicated to the theme of love, we want to realign our focus of Christmas and put Christ back into Christmas, that His love will reign in our hearts and families and that He will always be the symbol and definition of the love that we should share with one another.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that our hardened hearts may be opened, our eyes of judgment become that of love and understanding, our actions of hurt and pain be that of support and encouragement, and our minds of lust and fear become that of truth and wisdom. As we prepare to welcome You, help us to prepare the many aspects of our lives and our families that haven’t been reconciled, help those who may not know the true meaning of love encounter you. Make our hearts like yours.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for helping us to see as you see. Thank you for your constant assurances of your presence among us. Thank you for giving us our Saviour, your Son, Jesus Christ.

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