Jesus and Satan have an argument as to who is the better computer programmer.

Eventually they agree to hold a contest with God as the judge. They set themselves before their computers and begin. They type furiously for several hours; lines of code streaming up the screen. Seconds before the end of the competition, a bolt of lightning strikes and takes out the electricity. Moments later, the power is restored, and God announces that the contest is over. He asks Satan to show what he has come up with. Satan is visibly upset, and cries, ‘I have nothing! I lost it all when the power went out.’ ‘Very well, then,’ says God, ‘let us see if Jesus fared any better.’ Jesus enters a command, and the screen comes to life in vivid display, the voices of an angelic choir pour forth from the speakers. Satan is astonished. He stutters, ‘But how? I lost everything, how can Jesus' program be intact?’ God chuckles and says, ‘Ah – because Jesus saves.’

On this final Sunday of Advent the Church moves our gaze to the Annunciation. The whole scene hinges around one word: ‘Yes.’ Mary's fiat sets in motion the entire Christian drama. In his film Jesus of Nazareth Franco Zeffirelli pictures the Annunciation this way: Mary is asleep at night when a gust of wind opens a high window. Afraid at all the commotion Mary gets up and starts to pray. As she prays, we see her face change and her body bend over. With tears in her eyes, Mary looks up through the window to the moonlit sky and simply says, ‘Yes’. The swirling wind dies down at once.

In recent years successive popes have reminded us that the best devotion to Mary is one that leads us to do what she did: say ‘yes’ to Jesus. Mary is not a stop on our journey of faith; she is a guidepost that always sends us on to Christ. Mary does not save us, for we believe she needed to be saved by Christ as well. That's why she could say yes in the first place. Mary recognised the gift and the giver and became the bearer of God for the world.

In this final week of Advent let's keep reminding ourselves of this simple but life-changing fact: Jesus saves us. Jesus saves us from death. Jesus saves us from living lives devoid of purpose and meaning and Jesus saves us from ourselves.

We don't save ourselves. We cannot earn salvation by good works or prayers or penance. And, as difficult as it is to hear, we cannot save anyone else. That includes our children, spouse, grandchildren, parents or friends.

Our prayers, good works and faith are the responses we make to the salvation of Christ we claim here and now. And how we live is the way by which those we love will find the gift of God's salvation for themselves.

In the midst of this frantic final week before Christmas when so many other things can distract us from what this grace-filled feast is really all about, let's take a moment to join Mary in accepting into our lives and hearts the greatest of all gifts – our undeserved salvation, Jesus Christ the Lord.

© Richard Leonard SJ.


2 Sm 7:1-5. 8-12. 14. 16
The Lord speaks to Nathan.

Rom 16:25-27
God strengthens the Gentiles in their understanding of the Gospel.

Lk 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel visits Mary, who responds willingly to God.




Vibrant Parish Survey
The Parish Council seeks your feedback on Parish Life, Practice and Needs. The Survey asks you to rate the importance of various aspects of parish life and then your assessment of how St Francis Xavier St Clare parish addresses those aspects.  The survey is now available on line for you to fill out on your PC, Tablet or Smart Phone. http: //bit.ly/1u20DKp


We, the people of St Francis Xavier - St Clare parish, seek to live Christ-centred lives, celebrating God’s presence & our faith values through worship, outreach, service, justice & hospitality.

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Next meeting: 5 February 2015

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