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The Gift Of Grace

Rejoice!  The Lord is near!

The readings this weekend are filled with hope and fulfillment.  Isaiah’s message fills us with hope because all people of the world will recognize God’s people as his “delight.”   They will receive abundant blessings from God, so much so that their land will seem to be “espoused.”

The Gospel traces out the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham to Jesus.  One important feature in this genealogy is that some of the characters in Jesus’ family line were not all Jewish and some were far less than perfect.  In the Gospel, we are given a sense of fulfillment.  Jesus entered human history.  He had a normal human family complete with flaws.  God is entering human history embracing humanity with love and acceptance, even with our personal imperfections!

As Christians, we recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise to David that one of his descendants would rule his kingdom.  When we ponder the way that God chose to fulfill his promise and plan of salvation, we should be struck with awe.

Mary and Joseph were descendants of David and God chose Mary who was a poor, lowly girl to be the Mother of the Savior of the whole world!  When Mary said “yes” she was lifted up and so are all women through her.  Because of this all generations now call her “Blessed.”  Mary was the last who became first among the Redeemed and reigns as Queen in heaven.  The mighty and powerful rulers of the world are reduced to silence before her and no accomplishments of theirs will compare to her part in salvation history.  God surpassed Mary’s hopes and dreams in a greater way than he did those of David.  Jesus told us that the poor in spirit will attain the kingdom of heaven, the meek will inherit the earth and the pure in heart will see God.  The kingdom that Jesus established is beyond the powers and limits of this world and we are invited to come and follow his plan.  We are invited to say “yes” to God with Mary every day of our lives and as we do, we experience a surpassing gift that only Christ Our Savior can give.

Our expectant hope for a special grace every Christmas in the present is based upon God’s action of grace in the past.  A Christmas hymn that underlines the fulfillment of God’s promise is O Little Town of Bethlehem.  The last line of the first verse says: “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”  Our hopes are fulfilled by a loving, merciful Savior who dispels darkness, fear and doubt.  God bless you with light and peace! +++ Fr. Peter