Advent, 3rd Sunday (A) The Best Present is His Presence

What do you want for Christmas? It’s such a common question this time of year. We spend hours thinking, planning, and shopping for the perfect gifts for those we love. I am always entertained (and a little shocked) so see what TV thinks is a good Christmas gift. Seriously, who in his right mind would buy a Lexus as a surprise gift for someone?!!! You don't necessarily need to buy expensive gifts for anyone during the festive period. But if you are adamant in buying your loved ones something, why not look into something like Christmas gift baskets. Beautiful cheerful bows, gourmet holiday flavors and high-quality ingredients are the foundation of our holiday collection. This is a great present for anyone who loves food, cooking, ingredients and experimenting. In all the hustle and bustle it is easy to forget one simple fact: the first Christmas gift was not gold, frankincense and myrrh, it wasn’t even Peace on Earth, and it certainly wasn’t a trip to Bethlehem. The first Christmas gift was Baby Jesus. God gave us himself for Christmas. Did you ever think of yourself as a great gift? Personalized Christmas Ornaments My friend told me they make her christmas tree very Christian. Sometimes it can be hard to see ourselves as a gift. Do you know what else is a great gift? Sometimes it can be hard to welcome others (especially relatives) as gifts. But that is what we are called to do! It helps to start by welcoming Baby Jesus as a gift. Only God would be foolish enough to give away free something worth more than all the Lexuses in the world. If we received this gift, what must we be worth? To help us meditate on the gift of Christ, I encourage you to start a habit of praying the Angelus each day at Noon. This ancient prayer has been prayed daily by thousands of Christians to give thanks for the God-with-Us, Emmanuel. (12 Dec 2010)

The Angelus

The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, and she conceived of the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary, full of grace...

Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word. Hail Mary, full of grace...

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. Hail Mary, full of grace...

Pray for us O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. (Let us pray,) Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, Your grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, your Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen

From Pope Benedict's Address on the 3rd Sunday of Advent

Commenting then on today's Gospel reading in which John the Baptist asks whether Jesus is the Judge Who will change the world, or whether we must wait for another, Benedict XVI affirmed that "many prophets, ideologues and dictators have come and said: 'No, not him! He has not changed the world! We have!' And they created their empires, their dictatorships, their totalitarian regimes which were meant to change the world. And they did change it, but destructively. Today we know that all that is left of these grand promises is great emptiness and great destruction".

"The Lord, in the silent way characteristic of Him, replies: 'See what I have done. I have not brought a bloody revolution, I have not changed the world by force; but I have lit many lights which together form a great path of light over the millennia".

The Pope then turned his attention to St. Maximilian Kolbe "who volunteered to die of hunger in order to save the life of a married man", to St. Damian de Veuster "who lived and died with and for lepers", and to Mother Teresa of Calcutta "who brought light to so many people who, after a life spent without light, died with a smile because they were touched by the light of God's love.

"And so we could go on", he added, "and we would see, as the Lord said in His reply to John, that it is not violent revolution or great promises that change the world, but the silent light of truth, of God's goodness, which is the sign of His presence and gives us the certainty that we are fully loved, that we are not forgotten, that we are not the result of chance but of a will to love".

The Pope concluded his homily by highlighting how "God is close, ... but we are often far away. Let us, then draw close, let us come into the presence of His light, let us pray to the Lord and, in the contact of prayer, let us become a light for others".

-- Pope Benedict, Pastoral Visit to St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, 12 Dec 2010