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Fourth Week of Advent

Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24 & Lk. 1:57-66

Elizabeth’s and Zechariah’s relatives and neighbours at the end of the naming ceremony of their son John asked the question, “What shall this child be?” We of course know the answer. The prophet Malachi also knew, and tells us that he is to be the messenger who prepares a way before the Lord. That little baby boy became John the Baptist, a spiritual giant, a man of whom Jesus said, “Of all men born of women there is none greater than John the Baptist.” What went into the making of this great saint?

We can be certain that God was at work in his life from the very beginning. This little boy never grew into a spiritual giant overnight. Much prayer, discipline and good example went into the making of John the Baptist. When God chose a forerunner to prepare the people for the public ministry of His Son, He turned to a devoted couple, Elizabeth and Zechariah, who loved God and each other deeply. They were given the task of nurturing the child for his future role. Here we see the importance of good parents who create a happy home.

I know that there are exceptions to that rule. Occasionally, you will find a man or woman who has somehow been able to break free from the downward pull of an unfortunate home, and we shouldn’t always use a bad family background as an excuse for failure. Nevertheless, the best way to set our children on the road to sainthood is to bring them up in a good and loving home, where they can learn from our example how to be mature Christians.

This is the start of the Christmas season; and more than any holiday of the year, it is a family affair. May we take the time during these days to love our family and play our part in building a loving home where each one of us feels wanted and valued. Out of that could come a richness that would bless not only you and them, but the entire community. It happened in the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah; it could happen in our homes as well.

Heavenly Father, may each member of our families learn to live in harmony and grow closer to You and to each other during this Christmas season.

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