Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24
It’s incredible how close we are to celebrate the nativity, as there are only about few hours left before the liturgical celebration begins. People of all ages seem to feel a great sense of excitement and wonder as we approach this special event in our Christian faith. It’s heartwarming to see at night the streets, homes, and public places adorned with colourful Christmas decorations. Many churches and households have a long-standing tradition of creating their own Christmas nativity scenes, featuring Mary and Joseph near the infant Jesus in a crib, with angels hovering above them, while the glittering lights add to the festive atmosphere.
As we read from the book of Malachi in the first reading, we come across a mention of an angel, but it’s not the usual image we associate with Christmas. Rather, it delivers a message of judgment and warning. If you’re familiar with the life of John the Baptist, whose nativity St. Luke brought to us today, you’ll know that this is exactly his role, as he preached about repentance.
It is noteworthy that today’s Gospel resembles the other side of a sandwich. Luke weaves together the narratives of the birth of John and Jesus, detailing two separate annunciations in which the Angel Gabriel is sent by the Lord to deliver a message of conception. The first message is delivered to John’s father, Zechariah, and the second is delivered to Mary, the mother of Jesus; and eventually the birth narrative of John the Baptist. I remember the line of Prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Like John, we all have a purpose we’re called and sent to fulfill. Regardless of our social status, we are tasked with preparing the way for the Lord, not just for ourselves to welcome Christ, but for others to find Christ.
What about our presence, be it in the family, community, workplace, or the Parish where we are serving? Are we focused on bringing others to Christ, or do we bring ourselves to others?
Merry Christmas and a Grace-filled Year 2024!
Sr Rosana Estoque CP is a Passionist Religious, and the Pastoral Associate at St.Brtigid’s Chruch, Marrickville.