Sunday, 22 December 2019

Asking for a Gift, 4th Sunday of Advent, Year A

Isa 7:1-14
Today I want to say a few words about asking God to give you a gift this Christmas,
and about how this is a good way to PREPARE for what He wants to give you this Christmas.

In our first reading we heard the Lord God tell King Ahaz to ASK Him for something, in his case: “a sign”.
God, in fact, is a generous giver.
He wants to give us things.
He wants us to TRUST Him enough to ASK Him.
God was upset that Ahaz didn’t trust Him enough 
-Ahaz was instead fearful of ‘testing’ God (Isa 7:12).
Lots of physical gifts are going to be given to people in a couple days. 
I’d suggest to you that this is a good moment to consider what SPIRITUAL gift you could ask God for 
-God gives us many different graces through the different liturgical seasons;
we do well to focus ourselves to receive these different graces in these different seasons.  

I remember, when I studied spiritual theology, being struck by the saints and theologians of the Church talking about all the graces that are LOST to us because we don’t ASK God for them.
The Lord, “Ask, it will be given to you”(Mt 7:7)
The saints tell us to be SPECIFIC in what we ask God for (St Thomas ST II-II q83 a5).
to repeat:
-Our heavenly Father wants us to trust Him enough to ask Him for things.

What might I ask God for this Christmas?
I might ask for guidance, as we heard Him guide St Joseph in the Gospel.
I might ask for better obedience, that I might do what others ask me to do, as St Joseph did what the Angel told him, or, to phrase that differently, to be better at accepting what OTHERS want to do rather than what I want to do.
I might ask for more patience
or more strength.
God wants to give me something, and He wants me to ask.

I might ask for a BMW, or something silly and selfish. 
c.f. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly”(James 4:3)
Or, I could ask for something that He knows is good for me, 
something He WANTS to give me 
-but He’s waiting for me to ASK.
Probably not a BMW, but material things are among fitting things to ask Him (St Thomas ST II-II q83 a6).

The HEART of what He wants to give us is: HIMSELF.
The child to be born will be Emmanuel, “God-is-with-us”.
Most of us, probably, can say that there are areas of my life where God is ALREADY present.
But, unless I’m going to claim to be a sinless as the Blessed Virgin, 
and to claim that I am super-human and strong and all self-satisfied and complete,
then, there are other areas of my life where He is NOT fully present
-those are places I can pray that He be BORN in me anew this Christmas.

This final Sunday of Advent, Our Lady is presented to us as the perfect Advent figure:
She was ready for the Coming of the Lord, and so He came to us in her.
Asking God, in prayer of petition, is one way of MAKING ourselves READY for what He wishes to give us.
(St Thomas ST II-II q83 a2c)
King Ahaz refused to ask God, let is not make the same mistake:
What gift are you going to ask Him for Christmas?

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