Advent: The Call To Childhood

Advent: The Call To Childhood

In his homily for 4th Sunday of Advent, Year A, Father Hanly reveals that Advent is a time for children.

Readings for Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A

  • First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
  • Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7
  • Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

Written Homily

Christmas is for children. Everybody knows that. We forget, however, that Advent is also for children. In fact, in many ways, Advent is more for children than it is for adults.

“I feel sorry for the rich,” says my big sister to me, when we were children gazing wide-eyed with wonder into the magical windows of Macy’s Department Store, totally captivated by its lavish Christmas display.

“Why do you feel sorry for the rich?” I ask.

And she answers: “They have nothing to look forward to.”

Children understand that the main purpose of Advent is to get ready for Christmas. Parents might carp and criticize the commercialization of the Feast, but not the kids. And for the simple reason that children know while we can live without faith and we can survive without love, no one, no one can live without hope.

As the poet Péguy describes her: “Hope is the little girl that gets up every morning and wishes me good-day.”

Walk now with the children through this month of anticipation, filled with the mystery and delight that turns the world upside down, and the world will never be the same for you again.

Four Sundays of Advent: each with its own message; all neatly linked together like fire crackers ready to ignite, ending in an explosion of Christmas Joy.

First Sunday:

“Be watchful! Be alert!” The Lord is near, the Lord is coming, but you don’t know when or how or where. Maybe in the evening, or at noonday, or at midnight, or at cockcrow. Pray the Lord doesn’t come suddenly and find you sleeping. He’ll walk right on by your house and disappear into the darkness and you’ll never know he came at all.

“What shall I do?” you cry.

“Wake yourself up! Watch! Watch, but with hope in your heart!”

Second Sunday:

The Good News: God, sends his messenger! His message? “Prepare, prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight his paths!” Yes! Open your arms and greet him, open your heart and welcome him. John the Baptist is calling us to turn our lives around. “Come back, come back to God who loves you. Be washed in the waters, but remember: I baptize you with water. He who follows me will baptize you with fire, with the Holy Spirit of God.” Will you still stand idly by watching, or jump right in?

Third Sunday:

Jesus has come. John the Baptist asks:

“Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”

And Jesus answers, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

The Messiah it is who now knocks on the door of your heart. Will you open to him and invite him in?

Fourth Sunday:

 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”

Joseph listens to the angel of the Lord and takes Mary into his home and the world changes!

“The Word is made flesh and dwells among us.” The Child is born; God Himself is welcomed into the family of man by a frightened Joseph, a pensive Mary, a few poor shepherds and, of course, as every child knows, by a host of singing angels. “Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth to men of good will.”

And who shall believe such a far-fetched story?

Only a child, for it is written: “Unless you become as a little child, you shall never enter the Kingdom of God.”

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