Skip to main content
Logo for Alumni

December 24, 2023

Four lit candles surrounded by a wreath

Fourth Sunday of Advent

This year’s fourth Sunday falls on Christmas Eve, with morning worship focused on Advent and the afternoon turning to the vigil of Christmas. Advent has expressed our yearning for God as we become open to the promise of a Savior. God enters history, and, in our belief, human existence changes from that point into eternity. God’s plan for salvation will not be imposed with the wave of a divine wand but instead call upon human cooperation. In the Last Supper prayer, Jesus will say, “I am the Vine; you are the branches” (John 15:5). The union of God and humanity begins in the Nativity.

Sunday's morning gospel, the Annunciation story from Luke (1:26–38), describes a young woman, possibly the only child of older parents, and already betrothed to Joseph. The Angel Gabriel greets her with a blessing and announces that she will bear a son, whom she should name Jesus. Understandably troubled, she nonetheless agreed. The Son of God came into the world by divine action, but Mary exercised a necessary role. In the divine plan, salvation required human cooperation.

The evening Mass, which draws from the Gospel of Matthew (1:1–25), turns to Joseph, soon to be Mary’s husband. He struggled to understand her situation, and, like Mary, he faced a choice. When a divine messenger, an angel, revealed God’s plan, Joseph accepted his vocation as protector and guide to Mary and the child in her womb.

Together, the morning and evening gospels describe us, too. Even two millennia after the birth of Jesus, the Gospel commission continues. Mary has gone first, but we share her vocation to bring Christ’s grace into the world. We also hear Joseph’s call, to treasure and care for the human family around us. We celebrate Mary and Joseph, but we also celebrate our vocation as individuals and as a people alive in God.

Art Liebscher S.J., ’69

Fr. Art assists the Alumni Office with spiritual services deemed important to the University. His many good works include attending to those in special need, representing the University in liturgies, participating on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and helping build Santa Clara’s Jesuit outreach to younger alumni, special boards, and other constituencies.