Fourth Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 7:10-14
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-24


When I was a young fella, I often prayed, “Dear God, if only such and such happens, I will believe”. I must have said that a thousand times. Of course, such a request, and its feeling of faith, would only last until the next time I needed something.

I have learned that our faith is not in signs or wonders. Our faith is in a person: Jesus Christ. And the only sign that he is alive is when we let him live in our hearts.

We are the sign.

There are many times when life is wonderful, and it is easy to believe. So many ways Jesus shows his manifest love for us

And there are so m any times when life can be a battle. And it seems to me that this is where the real Spirit of Jesus lives

The times we live and love with a broken heart.

The times we are faithful in all of life’s unanswered questions.

The times we act with courage and love, even though we have no idea of how it will turn out.

I was at the Mai Tam Centre in HCMC a few years ago. They look after children born HIV+ and their mothers. I met a  lad who was 17 and had been born HIV+. He lived away from HCMC. When his father died four years before, his stepmother threw him out of the house. And so he decided to walk the 200km to Saigon, begging for food along the way. Eventually, he found a lottery seller, who pointed him to the Mai Tam Centre. He is now medicated, goes to school, and seeks further education.

He had no idea how that journey would end. Yet he set out. I have often thought of the countless people who must have given him food and water along the way, not knowing how it would end, and not even knowing what sort of person he was.

But they shared what they had. And he kept walking.

This guy is my inspiration.

May you be the spirit of courage and love this Christmas.

Peter Gardiner is a Passionist Priest in Sydney. He is primarily involved in outreach ministries.