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  • Homily for the Forth Sunday of Advent (B)

    1 posts, 1 voices, 821 views, started Dec 21, 2008

    Posted on Sunday, December 21, 2008 by (華娃娃) ChinaDoll

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    • Diamond
      Offline

      These last few days before Christmas are a time of intense preparation. It is a time when we plan surprises, scurry about doing our last minute shopping, wrap packages and fervently hope that all we are doing will make Christmas and the holidays ahead joyful for others, especially those we love.

      Advent, however, is a time of waiting, reflecting, journeying. Today we are given the person of Mary to meditate upon as we continue to prepare for the feast of Christmas.  Mary is called blessed because she believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled. She is presented as a model of belief. To believe is to be able to wait, to wait with a conviction in our heart that what we have been promised will come about.  

      If we look at Mary in her waiting, we see a woman who was truly waiting actively for the birth of her child. How did she wait? How did she act? She took a journey.

      The first type of journey Mary took was an inward journey; on this journey she reflected on the new life growing within her. There was a poem written many years ago by John Lynch entitled: A Woman Wrapped in Silence.  And indeed in the Gospels we are not given many words that Mary said. This may seem rather strange since the Church presents Mary to us as the model of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Would it not be good if we had more words of Mary to reflect upon? On the other hand, perhaps we are asked to learn deeply from Mary’s silence, from her attitude of treasuring things in her heart.

      And then, Mary took on an outward journey because, in the true nature of one actively waiting, she had work to do. There were people to be encouraged, strengthened, loved. There was a presence to be shared. Mary, pregnant herself with Jesus, carries that Christ into the home of her cousin Elizabeth. She thinks of Elizabeth’s need ahead of her own. She journeys into the hill country to help her cousin who is pregnant at an elderly age. Elizabeth is probably more in need of company, comfort and help than Mary, a young mother-to-be. In her waiting time, Mary ministers and serves. Her advent wait was full and active, full of encouragement and love, full of grace.

      In our lives we must remember to wait actively by reflecting and journeying, inwardly as well as outwardly. Taking the inward journey means sitting quietly before the Lord, giving God some room to come to us, to love and console us. It means taking the time to wonder at the mysteries of our own lives: friendship, love, birth, pain, but to wonder at them with the Lord. Have you ever noticed how things appear different to us when we are able to share them with others? God invites us to do that with him. But we must stop our hectic pace at times to allow God into our hearts.

      Along with the inward journey we also take the outward journey. At times waiting will be the way we are called upon to love. Waiting with loved ones in their illness, in their grief, in their emotional troubles. Many times we can do nothing but wait. But waiting is something that must be done. Waiting in an emergency ward, usually for hours, nothing to do and yet we know be should be there; our presence is important. And sharing that waiting can be a very important act of love. Mary waited with Elizabeth. She waited for Jesus to do what he had to do. She even waited as he died. She waited for the resurrection. She waited for the coming of the Spirit with the first disciples. And now we must wait, for one another and with one another.

      At times we may judge ourselves as not able to give anything to others because we feel we have so little within us to give. We may at times focus on the negative side of ourselves, only on the dark shadowy side. In fact, we can get so caught up with looking at this side that we become unable to see the bright side - the presence of some love within us, some caring, some affection for others. We are always a mixture of light and darkness.  This can lead us to neglect others - not out of a sense of disregard but out of a sense of uselessness. We keep thinking that we must have it all together before we can bring anything to anyone else. We will be imperfect and struggling with sin till the day we die. So this is not an excuse to keep from giving what we have to others. In our waiting we can still be ministers of love.

      Both the inward and the outward journeys are necessary. If we are only inward looking people then we may fail to carry out the command of Jesus to be loving to one another. If we are only outward looking people then we will lose touch with the real forces that propel us to action. We will be in danger of living in illusion or only on the surface of things. We need to be whole, to be both reflective and active. To be like Mary, waiting but doing so while loving her neighbor - giving service where it is needed.

      Those who wait are people who know that they are made for more. We carry within us the seed of all that will happen in the future. We have to wait expectantly and actively to nurture that seed so that it will grow. This is what a mother does when she awaits the birth of her child. This is what Mary did. This is what we are asked to do.

      [From Seeds for Sowing - Vol. I, No. 4, December 22, 1996 by John Vella]



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    In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.