Sunday, Dec. 21, is the fourth Sunday in Advent (Year B), and Thursday, Dec. 25, is Christmas, a holy day of obligation.


Papal Events

Christmas Eve: Pope Benedict XVI’s Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s. (Check local TV listings.)

Christmas: Pope Benedict’s Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) blessing at noon. (Watch it on EWTN or at EWTN.com.)


Media

Our generation grew up with television specials that add to the warm, cozy feeling of Christmas.

But their themes might be inappropriate. One is: “Monsters can be your friend if you are jolly.” Depending on what kind of monster your child meets, that could be a dangerous message. Another theme in these holiday specials is: “To save Christmas, we must rescue Santa’s ability to deliver gifts!”

Instead, watch two classic TV specials with messages of repentance (in the first instance) and faith (in the second): the original “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”


Readings

Second Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16; Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

EPriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.


Our Take

The first reading and the Gospel for this Sunday go together.

In the first reading, David is uneasy because his house is grander than the tent the Ark of the Covenant is kept in. Nathan gives the go-ahead to build a grander structure for the ark, but God has other plans. Men don’t make a place for God; it’s God who makes a place for men, he says.

This and other prophecies started Israel’s long period of waiting for a Messiah. The waiting ends in the Gospel reading. That’s when the angel comes to Mary and tells her that she will conceive and bear Jesus.

The great paradox of God’s action is that he does great things in small, quiet ways. David’s desire to build a great structure for the ark starts small; many years later, it will reach fulfillment in the Temple of Solomon, built by his son. The promised Messiah would start small: an embryo in a humble virgin’s womb. But eventually, the great Western civilization would be the result.

God is maddeningly patient. But his patience forces us to trust him, even today. And wait for what he has in store.