Homily ·Advent
By Archbishop Gomez
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
December 23, 2018

My brothers and sisters in Christ,1

Christmas is coming! As I said, this year it’s coming really soon! Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and then Tuesday is Christmas da.

So I think we all are excited about the immediate celebration of Christmas cause it is always a joyful time for all of us, but especially in the life of the Church.

Because Christmas helps us to see that God has a loving plan for the Church, for the world and for every one of us.

Jesus comes to redeem sinners and all of us stand in need of his redemption. So, we ask for the grace today to trust in God and his salvation.

And the readings of today’s Mass are very helpful to reflect and prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christmas this year.

In our first reading today, we hear the great prophecy of Micah.

And in this prophecy, God promises to Israel that a mother will give birth and the child that will be born who will be a ruler, a shepherd, a King. The prophet says:  

When she who is to give birth has borne …
the rest of his kindred shall return
to the children of Israel.

And the prophecy we hear, this was very beautiful for me to reflect on, is also a prophecy of peace. The child who is born will be a great shepherd, a great king. And as the prophet says:

His greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace.

My brothers and sisters, this is Jesus. Christmas is the great sign of God’s desire to bring us peace on earth — peace in our hearts and also peace in the world. This is a challenge for all of us, but this what we all desire for our families, for our societies, for the Church, for the world.

So, we need to welcome Jesus, welcome the peace he brings. We need to be people of peace, making peace in our families, especially. If there is anger, let us try to bring calm and love. If feelings are hurt, let us try to encourage forgiveness and getting people back together.

He shall be peace.

So the first gift that we should ask for this Christmas is precisely the gift of peace for each one of us, our families, our Church and the world.

And our Gospel today is the story of the Visitation that we know well. Mary Our Blessed Mother going to visit St. Elizabeth. Mary set out and traveled to the hill country with haste to a town called Judea where she entered the house of Zachariah and greeted Elizabeth.

Another interesting thing that I always reflect on is the fact that God comes into the world in the most quiet, the most ordinary way. As a child, as a baby in a mother’s womb. And then the fact that the history of salvation — God’s whole plan for humanity — is carried out by two women, two expectant mothers. This is beautiful. It’s extraordinary!

Mary Our Blessed Mother and Saint Elizabeth. And we heard those beautiful words this morning from Elizabeth, words that we remember every time we pray the “Hail Mary.”

Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Again my dear brothers and sisters, this is the joy we are waiting for at Christmas, the joy of meeting Jesus who comes to each one of us.  

St. Elizabeth stands for every one of us — yes, Mary is bringing Jesus to you and to me.

The birth of Jesus is something that happens in Nazareth but also in our hearts. We really need to make room for the Child Jesus in our hearts, just as St. Elizabeth was able to open her heart to his Spirit, which brings us joy.

St. Elizabeth was able to welcome Jesus because her heart was open. She was looking for him — and she was expecting to find him.

This is the way we should live, just like Elizabeth — always on the look-out for the “visitation” of God.

So let us ask for that grace today, to receive his love, to welcome him, especially on this Christmas Day — and to always live with that joy of St. Elizabeth, knowing that Jesus — that the Lord is with us, all the time.

But then we have the beautiful example of Mary Our Blessed Mother and we should be also like her. She heard her cousin Elizabeth, who was elderly, needed help with her pregnancy, so she went to help her. It was not an easy trip, an easy journey. But as soon as Mary Our Blessed Mother was in need she immediately decided to go there and be with her.

This is how Christians live. We are people of peace and we are also people of compassion — reaching out to others in need, bringing Jesus into their lives.

This is just what Mary did when she “went with haste” to visit Elizabeth.

So let us ask for that grace, too. We need to be more sensitive to the needs of others, especially those who are close to us — but also to the needs of those in our community. The sick, the prisoner, the immigrant and refugee, the elderly, the lonely — and of course, we need to help women who are expecting a child, as St. Elizabeth was.

We need to bring Jesus to all of these people, we need to show them the love of God. Christmas teaches us that every life is precious to God.

So Christmas is a beautiful time. It’s a time of renewal, a time to reflect on the beauty of God’s love for each one of us — and especially those beautiful gifts: the gift of peace, the gift of trust in God, the gift of compassion.

So let us try in this Christmas season to entrust our lives to God with even more confidence — putting ourselves in the service of his plan. Wanting only what he wants. Doing everything to please God.

So, Christmas is coming! Jesus is coming! Our Lord is near! So we should be rejoicing, we should have a smile on our face these days. We should be living these days with the spirit of happiness and excitement that we want to share with the people around us.

Let us open our hearts to welcome Jesus, and let us open our hearts to become the people he wants us to be. People who live in his presence and seek always to do his will, sharing his peace and compassion with everyone in our lives, especially our families.

I hope that you all have a blessed and happy Christmas and may our Blessed Mother Mary help us to receive the joy and peace of Child Jesus! 

1. Readings (4th Sunday of Advent): Mic. 5:1-4; Ps. 80:2-3, 15-16,18-19; Heb.10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45.

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