Readings for Friday, December 17:
Today begins what are traditionally referred to as the "O Antiphons", specific prayers used in the liturgy for the eight days leading up to the birth of Christ on 25th. They each entail a different aspect of the Lord's coming in glory at Christmas. The readings also, as with the entire season of Advent, have a specific character of recalling things that the Lord promised to His people as a sign that they are all fulfilled in the Christ Child born among us. The first readings recalls the promise spoken over 4000 years ago - that the mace or scepter of power would not depart from the tribe of Judah. And indeed it is the Lord, Himself of the tribe of Judah, that comes to reign as King of the Earth and of all creation. The fulfillment of this is found in the genealogy account from Matthew's gospel. This list of names is traced back to King David and Abraham, both of whom have a certain dominion over the things of the world but which Christ fulfills in His coming. He is the reality which they vaguely foreshadowed so many years ago. And so it is a sign that God is still very active in the world around us, then and now. This, after all, is what the Kingdom of God is - the reign of God over all creation and His involvement in the life of all people in all times. Pope Benedict XVI speaks to this in his book Jesus of Nazareth: "When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God, he is quite simply proclaiming God, and proclaiming him to be the living God, who is able to act concretely in the world and in history and is even now so acting. He is tell us: 'God exists' and 'God is really God,' which means that he holds in his hands the threads of the world."
I have been reading the above-mentioned book throughout this mission trip that we're on and reflecting on this topic of the Kingdom of God in reference to what we're doing here. I have been contemplating the reality that the Lord is acting in and through us in this short time to proclaim the Kingdom of God in these days leading up to the celebration of Lord coming among us as a child - like John the Baptist, who prepared His way so many years ago. And as I reflect on it, I see us also like the Baptist as he leapt in the womb of his mother at the presence of Christ in the womb of Mary - we are not always able to proclaim the Lord's presence in words but more often by action, the 'leaping' of our presence, ministry, work, charitable acts, and prayer. This morning at Mass, Fr. David Kelly, the director of pastoral formation at our seminary, spoke of our proclaiming the Kingdom of God in out time here as missionaries. Then he reminded us that just as Jesus was a real man who came from a line of real men and women, as the gospel account today indicates. Many people some great sinners, others great sinners, were all part of the preparation of the coming of the Messiah. We too, as missionaries, are following in a long line of other missionaries - saints and sinners both - who have prepared the way for these people to hear Christ's message at this time.
In the same way, each of us is called in this advent season to help others to prepare the way for the coming of Christ, uniting ourselves to that long list of souls who sought to bring others to know Christ and be known by Him. Grant that we might be able to cooperate with all that the Lord has in store for us.