December 17, 2023; Jn 1:6-8, 19-28; Third Sunday of Advent
385,000 children will be born in the world today. Large numbers of children are born everyday. Two thousand years ago, Jesus was one of them. In today’s gospel John the Baptist announces Jesus coming. We know that Christ’s birth became a reality when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. Mary, like every mother, knew that she had to provide a home for her child, a safe place where Jesus could grow. Mary understood that a home is more than a building to protect a child from the elements. A home is a network of loving relationships in which a child can grow to understand the value of respect, generosity and compassion. Mary and Joseph created such a space for Jesus. He was therefore able to become a mature adult capable of inaugurating the kingdom of God. There is no human effort more important than providing a home in which children can grow. The future of our world depends upon it.
I know that many of you here know this truth, firsthand, because it is your vocation to provide a home. And you do it well. You give yourself everyday to earning a living, grilling hamburgers on the deck, changing diapers, staying up until your teenager comes home from a night out with friends. This is family, and you nurture it so that your children can grow. But there are 385,000 children who will be born today, and not all of them will have a home. Some will be born into areas of war such as Ukraine or the Middle East where their parents are in shock, missing, or dead. Some will be born into households without adequate food or healthcare. Others will begin their lives amid family relationships that are characterized by addiction or abuse. And all the children born today will be entering a world whose environment is threatened by pollution and the misuse of the earth’s resources.
This pain and these issues must accompany us in this holiday season. As much as we give thanks for the blessings of our family, we must remember our connection to every family.This is why it is appropriate as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’s birth, that we enlarge our thinking beyond the personal and the immediate. The harsh realities of our world ask us what part of our time, finances, or support can we direct to organizations or initiatives that strive to make a difference in the area of poverty, addiction, education, or world peace? When we pray, we should remember to lift up not only the people we love but all of God’s daughters and sons. 385,000 children will be born today. Jesus came to save each one of them. That is why we have a mandate to be sure that our love and concern is as wide as his.