4th Sunday of Advent

2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

There is an old Jewish folk tale about a king's son who goes mad: the boy believes he is a bird. He removes all his clothes and goes to live in a tree near the nests of robins and starlings; he refuses to eat normal food or return to his warm, safe room in the castle, His distraught father summons all manner of experts to come and cure the boy, but no physician or sage can help the sad prince.

Then one day a rabbi, a man of great compassion and humility, hears about the plight of the royal family. He comes to the castle and offers his help. The king, desperate for a cure, takes the rabbi to see the prince. The rabbi then does something that no one else had done: he climbs the tree and joins the boy on one of the highest branches and declares that he too is a bird and has come to live in this beautiful tree.

Over time, the rabbi and prince become friends. The prince begins to trust this old "bird" living in the tree with him; the boy comes to realize that the rabbi is a man great wisdom and grace.

Gradually the rabbi is able to convince the bird-prince to put on his clothes and return to his home and family.

In today's gospel, God breaks into human history in the birth of Mary's child. God puts aside divinity to climb the tree into which we have escaped in our "madness" and fear. In becoming "birds" like us, in taking on our human condition in all its complexities and challenges, God - in the person of Jesus of Nazareth - shows us how to live fulfilling and grace-filled lives of compassion, forgiveness, and justice.

Meditation: In what ways do you see God affecting the decisions you make?

Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus, Light of God's grace, and illuminate our road to the Father. Come, Lord Jesus, Mirror of God's love, and teach us to reconcile our world in justice and peace. Come, Lord Jesus, Bread of God's life, and feed us with manna of wisdome and righteousness.

from "Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2011-12" by Jay V. Cormier