Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love. These are our Four Advent Virtues.
In the Lord, we hope to know all four of them in fullness.
In this fourth week of Advent, it is time to talk about love.
So many sages and philosophers and poets and song artists have tried to define love. Many have come up with good definitions. All of them know that love cannot be limited to that definition. Love is endless, unbounded, unconditional and so much more.
So what can be said here of Love?
First and Foremost: “Love is God, and God is Love.” This is the highest of virtues, and Love is the best term of them all to describe Who God is, What God is, How God is, When God is, and Why God is, and so forth.
As some of the great words of St. John say: (1st John 4:7-11)
“Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love
…Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
So— God is love, and He wishes to be shared as the love that gives us birth, and a special knowing of being loved. Also– God is the love that wishes to be shared between us. Further–God wants to show how He can abide (remain, live, dwell, bless us incredibly) in us and even lead us to our utter perfection of life. Love will save us into Heaven. God’s love working in us, as it ought to, will save us into Heaven.
That must be our lead statement about LOVE.
Secondly, I would like to define love as acceptance.
Acceptance is a most fitting word for love. For we must be in an agreement with God as to truly love. Our hearts must be open to be vehicles/instruments/ways of God’s love to move in the world. Openness means an agreement with God.
Acceptance means that we are willing to have love on God’s terms.
Since God is love, He knows all about how it is to work in our lives and in this world. Acceptance means that in the context of understanding how love is working, we are willing to let love happen in whatever circumstances “it” wants to present “itself.” (“Itself” is really God’s realm finding agreement in us.) We trust God that love can be found in any place, time and situation. Love is available everywhere. God is omni-present; so His love is ready to be received and lived anywhere.
Even amidst the trouble of our sinful lives; love can be found.
This is truly amazing. This is evidence of how God is real.
Even as things may not go as we’d like or imagined it to go, love can find a way through us.
In this Fourth Sunday of Advent, we have the example of Joseph. He is mentioned in the gospel of Matthew 1(vs. 18-24), and he is a rock solid example of love. He has fallen in love with the maiden Mary. He has been told in a dream, by an angelic message, that Mary is the mother of the Messiah. Thus, He loves Mary, and loves the incoming Christ, and he goes about the business of acceptance and obedience to God. As it says in today’s gospel: “When Joseph awoke, from the dream, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.” What does that mean? He accepted what God was laying out. He took responsibility for his love for Mary and what was happening to her, and he accepted God’s plan.
If you think that was easy, then you might not know the story well enough. Joseph was amazing in his acceptance of how he was to act in love and responsibility ahead. His example led Pope John Paul II to write a good deal down about this amazing example so humbly given there in the Christmas story. Humble Joseph loved. His love was expressed in acceptance of God’s will. He will love out to the full what had been started in him and Mary. God’s mystery of love has come between them. God’s fruit of love, the blessed fruit of the womb of Mary, will be coming into the world. God has found an accepting and supportive spirit in St. Joseph.
Love is Acceptance.
Love is willing to do what God wants.
That is a definition in your life and mine. If we are willing to do what God wants through our lives, then we are living in love.
Joseph was definitely challenged in this plan for him.
He did not have total control or knowledge of what to do in the circumstances. He just trusted and was at God’s service.
Perhaps that could define our situations. Life has a way of dealing us some challenges that we don’t feel ready for. The phone call at 3 a.m. as a friend calls on you for a special favor. Or the grim face of a doctor telling you that the results of your normal check-up have shown a bad abnormality in your annual medical study–now you have your life altered ahead by this health challenge. But can you love and accept that you are in God’s service, even in this challenge? Or, perhaps your company that you work for has decided to downsize and you might be expendable, even after 25 years of good work for them! What are you to do now? Love is needed. Acceptance of God’s plan even in this change. Can you respond? Joseph did. And he was caring for the entrance of the Son of God! Talk about a tall order. He met it with accepting love of the will of God. He met it with accepting love of the will of God. (Plus, he would use all the human talents he had at his disposal.)
Love is Acceptance. How can you apply this definition to yourself?
When you think about this definition, it is not so easy to apply, is it? Yet, “love is of God”… we must rely on the help of God. God is found in the realm of love, and He wishes to reveal its power to us.
I will add one other concept here for you, if you are able to add it in. I take this advice from another person who has looked at today’s readings, and they say this: “It’s our acceptance, our consent to God’s will for our lives, that opens us up to creating love. And heaven knows, this world can use all the love that we can manage to create! Acceptance changes our attitudes from resistance to openness.
This is such a big concept; let me repeat it. Acceptance, in the power of love, changes our attitudes from resistance to God to openness to God. What happens when this comes about? God’s will can flow more freely. And we become the instruments of that will. Agents of His love. It was what we always were meant to be. Right?
As we are just a couple of nights from Christmas, allow me to share with you a fellow parishioners new version of the Night Before Christmas.
The Night before Christmas
By OTELLA BRANTMIER (parish member/
Adaptation from Clement Moore’s
Twas The Night before Christmas
in Bethlehem town
Not an inn was empty, Not a room to be found.
Joseph was looking for a room they could share,
For Jesus, Our Savior soon would be there.
The town was all nestled, all snug in their beds
While visions of tax collectors danced in their heads.
Mary on our donkey and I led the way,
To a lowly stable where we could stay.
Mary in her kerchief and I in my cap,
Had just said our prayers before a long needed nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a light,
I sprang from my bed to see what shone in the night.
Away to the window I flew with a dash,
Tearing open; the shutters, I saw a great flash!
When what to my wondering eyes should I see,
But a magnificent star shining down on me.
A STAR , with such brilliance! None could compare,
It shone on our stable, it shimmered everywhere.
I whistled and shouted, Called for my wife.
I turned and I saw Her surrounded in light.
Mary was bathed in this heavenly Glow,
Just how it was done, I don’t really know?
The stable was shinning as bright as the sun,
The next thing I knew God delivered His Son.
Falling, we adored in complete holy joy.
For Our Heavenly Father had sent us a boy!
Oh! JESUS, Our Savior, A child so fair!
Oh! God Our Redeemer to save men everywhere.
A Child from heaven to His earthly home,
Laid in a manger for His Kingly Thorne.
Angels chanting hymns of humble adorations
One by one bowed in profound veneration.
Then up to the housetops the Angels, they flew,
With their hearts filled with singing Alleju!
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
Angels in multitudes mounted the sky.
And then in a twinkling I heard angels still,
Singing to shepherds out on the hill.
All of nature was in movement of joy and delight
I stared in amazement at this wondrous sight.
The shepherds approaching, sheep gathered near
In low adoration, they too bowed here.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
Adoring on knees, the ox and lambs were found.
The fox dressed in fur and the rabbit afoot
Came to the crib their little gifts to put
A bunch of berries, flowers and a fig,
A dove floated in with an olive branch twig.
And then from the East, they came from afar’
Three Wise Men on camels following that star.
In magnificent robes so grand to behold,
They came bearing gifts, myrrh, frankincense and gold.
Softly they praised Him, the King of Kings,
Giving thanks to God for the Savior He brings.
To this very day, Christmas comes each year,
In the hearts of all children, a Babe so dear.
If you listen carefully, you may hear,
The Myriads of Angels singing quite clear,
You may hear them exclaim ere they fly out of sight,
Blessed Christmas to all and to all a good night.