Dear One and All,
Before we get into the realhomilie for this Sunday, let see a bridge between the First Sunday of Advent, and the Fourth Sunday. Advent began with a reading from Jeremiah that the Lord fulfils promises. This Sunday’s gospel ends the Sundays of Advent by affirming ‘the promise made by the Lord would be fulfilled’.
How does this sit with us in our cultural settings?We tend to think of fulfilment in terms of being personally ‘filled full’. The fulfilment of salvation requires self-emptying; for example, God empties self to send the Son, the Son empties self on the cross. We are invited to take up the Cross and follow the Lord.
Here we are at the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and only a few days till the Christmas Celebration! According to the Television News, this is going to be a bumper time (Big Sales) for the Shops and Department Stores…the economy is starting to move, good times are coming, while the Australian $ is low, hence more overseas investment into our economy! In the midst of all this secular activity we can just hear this! Come, Lord Jesus! The weather here in Eastern Australia is topsy- turvy (meaning, Upside Down, inconsistent) …one day cold, the next day very hot! Vicious storms one afternoon, strong winds the next day! What about the tourist industry that we depend on so much for income, if the weather is not going to perform nicely for us? Again we hear a little louder the Advent call: Come, Lord Jesus! What about the plight of the poor people in some of the Pacific Islands who are slowly losing their land to rising waters, due to climate change? What about the people in Paris who were killed or injured, due to the recent terror attack! The Advent call gets even louder. Come, Lord Jesus! What about the Holy Land….the place of Christ’s birth where the sound of gun fire and rocket grenades takes the place of Church Bells? Come, Lord Jesus is the Advent cry of God’s people!!!! Maranatha!!!!!!!!!
The link between the close of Advent, and the Birth of Christ, bursts forth in joy with humility, in the sharing of the Word, within the context of Divine visitation! With our God, the impossible becomes possible! The Prophet Micah in our First Reading, lifts up the ‘faithful few’ in hope, who looked forward intently to God’s saving action as he says, ‘ You, Bethlehem, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel’. What would that ‘rule’ be like? Would it be that of the pursuit of power and glory, and local domination? No! In the Prophet’s final words today he says,’ He (the promised One) himself will be peace’.
In the Gospel, we see Mary as not only the representative of the New Israel, and the ‘faithful few’, who longed for the fulfilment of God’s promises. Her “Yes” to God’s invitation was nurtured through the pondering, and inner hopeful expectancy, that God is doing a new deed in an era, which lacked that general expectancy! After receiving the mind blowing news that God was going to overshadow her with blessedness, and she was to be the Christ-bearer, through the birth of the Emmanuel, “ God-is-with-us”, she immediately responds with loving sensitivity to be with her older cousin, in her time of seeing the impossible become possible. The meeting of these two women at the Visitation is truly a moment when God’s Spirit rejoices. As St Luke and the community who weaved the story of this precious moment says:’ yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’ And blessed are we who believe, and know that God will never let us down; no matter how much darkness may be in the skies of our lives. Because like a shooting star, the saving hand of God can surprise us, and beckon us with light and love, at the most unexpected times, and through the most unusual people and circumstances.
Christmas invites us to be people of ‘visitation;’ to be bearers of God’s love, to respond to the inner stirrings which call us to ‘make haste’ to ‘be with’ someone. Christmas invites us to listen with the heart, through deep sensitivity, and like Mary, to be people who are alert to the opportunities in daily life which urge us to cross the hills of indifference, and intolerance, and celebrate with joy in Him who calls us to be the ‘Living Word’ every day. ‘Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face in our sisters and brothers, and we shall be saved.’
‘Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my Words will never pass away,’ says the Lord!
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