Reflection for the readings of December 24, 2023, the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

We’ve made our journey these four weeks of Advent with the people who led up to Jesus. King David is imperfect but chosen. The prophets, men and women, told difficult truths and announced the coming of something greater. John the Baptist called God’s people to remove whatever blocked their path to the coming Messiah. And today, we end with the last of those forerunners and the greatest of them all: Mary, the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin.

In the four weeks of Advent leading up to the Birth of Jesus, we walk with the pregnant Mary as she holds the savior of the world within herself. In those nine months, Mary began a lifetime of giving everything she was to Jesus, her God, and our God.

They say that a pregnant woman’s lungs fill up with 50% more air, and their bodies consume 10 to 20% more oxygen. Every time she breathed, she was giving life not just to herself but to him. I’ve also read that a pregnant woman’s heart works 40% harder, and heart rate can increase up to 15%. She is physically giving her heart over to support him as he grows.

I bring all this up because Mary is a very real example for us in that she gave herself over to God in every conceivable way–her heart, soul, everything she was. And in that, she is a model for us.

This Christmas, we are called to give our hearts and souls to God. Through our very lives, we offer heart and breath to Jesus Christ in the world. Through each prayer and action, we realize the Incarnation, the mystery of Christmas, in the present moment.

Christ is not merely born in a manger; he is born in the Church, in you.

Image: Adobe Stock. By curlymary.

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Fr. Alex Roche is the pastor of St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Laflin, Pennsylvania and serves as the director of vocations for the Diocese of Scranton. Ordained in 2012, he has a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Lateran University. He went to college with a girl who went to high school with the niece of the guy who played Al in Quantum Leap.

You can listen to his podcast at www.wadicherith.com.

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