Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin
It is a little hackneyed to complain about how early Christmas seems to come to the marketplace (and, indeed, to the Market Place) these days. But perhaps it is also slightly hypocritical for the Church so to complain – for even our anticipation of Christ’s coming in the Advent season is itself anticipated in these closing weeks of the liturgical year.
On this last ordinary Sunday of Ordinary Time, we hear St Paul talk to the Thessalonians about the coming of the “Day of the Lord”, “as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). The second coming of Christ is linked to the pains of birth, much as in Advent the second coming of Christ will be linked to his birth from the Blessed Virgin Mary.
It is our mission to bring Christ to the world, to bring him to birth. It is a mission we cannot avoid, because he is already within us. It is a mission not restricted to a particular time of year, nor even to a particular time of day. Christ himself could come at any time, and we must be ready at any time to bring him into the world; that is, we must not shy away from opportunities to make the Lord known to those we encounter.
The end of time perhaps will be a time of pain; and in some times and places there are pains for Christians who are persecuted for proclaiming Christ. For most of us the pains will be rather less severe, but no less sudden: the awkwardness we might feel when a conversation turns to questions of the faith. We must not be sleeping at such moments, but seize the opportunity to take our part in revealing the Lord to the world.