23 Dec
4th Sunday of Advent (A)
Is. 7:10-14
Ps. 23:1-2.3-4.5-6
Rom. 1:1-7
Mt. 1:18-24
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Our God is not a God "out there", in the sky, isolated and remote. Through Jesus, God comes to be with us for all time. Matthew also ends his gospel with Jesus' words promising and fulfilling "Be assured, I am with you always to the end of time" (Mt. 28:20). Christmas is the time for us to become more conscious of this tremendous reality: The Son of God by whom the universe was made, became once and forever our brother, one of us, a member of our own race, a permanent resident of Earth.

This great event has tremendous repercussions - Christian faith draws from this fact the ultimate foundation of our human dignity and progress. This is what St Paul tells us in the second reading of our liturgy today: First, Paul considers himself "an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God", and later he tells us that "through Him (Christ) we have received the grace to bring about the obedience of faith . . . to be called to belong to Jesus Christ". We really have every reason to rejoice, to celebrate, to spread hope and peace all year round, but specially when we celebrate Christmas night "when Christ is born from Mary through the holy Spirit."

Jesus You are truly God-with-us. Teach us and help us to believe, work and live always with You in what we do.

Eternal Father, I offer You everything I do this day; my thoughts, words, joys and sufferings. Grant that, vivified by the Holy Spirit and united to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, my life this day may be of service to You and to others. I also pray that all those preparing for marriage discover in Sacrament the source of Christ's grace for living a fithful and fruitful love. Amen.

That Christians may free themselves from the subtle forms of cultural conditioning which prevent them from recognising the dignity and rights of others

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P R A Y I N G    W I T H    T H E    C H U R C H    

INTENTION : That Christians may free themselves from the subtle forms of cultural conditioning which prevent them from recognising the dignity and rights of others

Our vocation and mission as Christians is to bring the light of Christ to the world in order to preserve the world from corruption by permeating it with the values of the Gospel. We need, ourselves, first and foremost to be enlightened by Christ. We do not generate light, we only refract, reflect and radiate. It is His light that we must cast on the world. The more transparent our lives are with the values of the Gospel, the better is the light of Christ reflected and the less we are seen.

The world in which we live is mixed with wheat and weeds. There is good and evil. Consumerism is but the logical sequence of a materialistic way of life. Spiritual values are forgotten. Our wants are made to appear as our needs and we are forced to get so immersed in the joys of this world as to forget the joys of the world to come. We are admonished to be aware lest we be trapped by these and other forms of cultural conditioning that mark this world.

Awareness is the first step to change. We pray that this awareness may help us to be delivered from the cultural conditioning that hinders and hampers our vision and prevents us from recognising the dignity and the rights of others.

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