Christmas Celebrates the Gift of God’s Presence in our Lives
We have arrived at the final Sunday of Advent. As it is always, some of us have come to this day prepared and ready; some of us have come in disarray and a near state of panic. We have tried to be spiritually prepared for Christmas. We lit the Advent wreath each Sunday, we prayed together as a family, and tried to remember the needy in our community and have considered what we can do more throughout the year.
It is easier to put up decorations and buy presents and plan for parties and write Christmas cards and do all the other tangible things and say, “I am ready for Christmas.” But I suspect that God does not really care about how we have decorated our houses. I imagine that God is looking to see how much our love has grown and years have changed. What have we learned during this advent season that we can take with us into the New Year?
As we are nearing the end of advent, we are gently led into the lives of Mary and Elizabeth. There is a reason why Mary and Elizabeth are always the focal point of the fourth Sunday of Advent. Simply stated, women understand Advent better than men. Why? Because won=men have babies and men don’t. Women know what waiting for new life is all about; they know what active preparation is. Pregnant women know new life from inside out; they have the experience. That is why Mary visits Elizabeth. Their visit and their conversation tell us all we need to know as we enter the final hours of our waiting.
As Mary does in today’s gospel, touch base with your own self and valuable relationships. Get ready and hurry up with your visits. Open your arms in reconciliation and welcome. Recognize Christ in others you meet. Take that first step in your life to greet others gently and to settle your disputes, and be a symbol of joy for others.
Little Anita has a very busy father. He is a dot-com engineer who makes a lot of money but has little time to be with his family. Every night, however, Anita insists that her father read her a story before she would go to sleep. This continued for some time until the man found a ‘solution’. He bought Anita a colorful kid’s tape player and made a tape for her favorite stories in the kid’s tape player and made a tape for her favorite stories in the story book. Whenever, therefore, the child asks him to read her a story he would simply push the button and play back the tape-recorded stories. Anita took that for a few days and then revolted and refused to accept the stories on tape. “Why,” asked the father, “the tape reads the stories as good as I do!” “Ya”, replied the little girl, “But I can’t sit on his lap.”
Remember Christmas celebrates the gift of God’s presence in our lives. Let us be present to the people who need us.
In the gospel we hear these words at the very beginning: Mary arose and went with haste …. Let us see a few of the setting out.
- We find Jesus from the synagogue went to heal Peter’s mother in law.
- The repentant Prodigal Son sets out for his father’s house
- Peter sets out for the tomb of Jesus
- The two disciples on the road to Emmaus set out to return to Jerusalem.
- The shepherds to the manger, they went in hast
- Zacchaeus came down from his tree
Today we hear of Mary, she sets out in haste:
- To set an example of Humility and Charity
- To visit and greet the lowly, poor and to be of service.
The Visitation is in fact the first CORPUS CHRISTI procession.
It is the meeting of two women:
- both women of faith in the Word of God:
- to help each other
- sing praises of what God has done in their lives
- they both acknowledge each other’s greatness
- Elizabeth acknowledge Mary as the mother of the Lord
- John the Baptist too acknowledge Jesus in the womb, whom he is going to preach about.
We see this faith in action: work and charity; to meet and help each other.
Preparation for Christmas in the season of Advent should have Mary as our model:
- She spends time in prayer and contemplations.
- She goes out of herself
- She sees the needs of others
- She goes to make other people comfortable
- Her concern begins with her own family (charity begins at home)
- She goes beyond her titles and makes life simple for others.
- Her presence brings joy and happiness (even to John the Baptist in the womb)
- She goes about sharing the good news.
In doing all this we will make other happy and bring joy, Jesus to others. Thus we can truly welcome Christ not just in our lives but that of the world.
Fr. Franco Pereira, S.D.B.