4th Sunday of Advent Year C – 15

4th Sunday of Advent Year C – 15

Micah 5:1-4/ Heb.10:5-10/ Lk.1:39-44

If I say I have news for you, then most probably you would want to hear what the news is about. Regardless of whether it is good news or bad news, we would want to know what it is. The curiosity in us would also make us almost demand to know what the news is all about.

So whether the news is good or bad, happy or sad, favorable or incredible, we just want to hear it first and then see what to make of it after that. So, let’s say one day you come back from work and you see a letter addressed to you and it’s from your daughter, you would surely open the letter immediately.

Your curiosity won’t let you wait, no matter how tired or how busy you might be. Well, a story goes that one day, a mother came home from work and as she passed by her daughter’s room, she was astonished to see the bed nicely made and everything was packed up.

Then, she saw an envelope propped up prominently on the center of the bed. It was simply addressed to “Mom”. With the worst premonition, she opened the letter with trembling hands and slowly read the letter. It read like this: Dear Mom,

It is with great regret and sorrow that I am writing to you. I had to elope with my new boyfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with you and Dad. I’ve been finding real passion with John and he is so nice, even though he is pierced with studs in his ears, nose, lips, tongue, face and he has tattoos all over his body.

But it’s not only the passion, Mom. I’m pregnant and John said that he will take care of me and we will be very happy. He has a trailer somewhere and there is enough food for us and the baby. He wants to have many children with me and I really like that idea too.

John taught me that marijuana doesn’t really hurt anyone and we intent to grow it and then trade it with his friends for all the cocaine and ecstasy pills we want. In the meantime, we hope that science will find a cure for AIDS so John can get better because he surely deserves it.

Don’t worry Mom, I’m 15 years old now and I know how to take care of myself. Someday I’m sure we’ll be back to visit so that you can get to know your grandchildren. With love, your daughter. And then at the Bottom of the letter:

PS: None of the above is true! I’m actually at the neighbor’s house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than my report card which is on my desk. I love you, Mom. Call me when it is safe for me to come home.

Well, I guess there are many ways to break some news so we might as well try to be creative with it! The Gospel account for this 4th Sunday of Advent is about two pregnant women, one of whom, Elizabeth, was already in the sixth month of her pregnancy.

Mary had only recently received the news that she was pregnant. It was a life-changing announcement, and she probably needed some time to herself, time to prepare, time to reflect, time to get herself together. But she didn’t think of her own needs.

Instead she set out on an arduous journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant, and to care for her. That’s not something most women would do. But these were two remarkable women, remarkable in the sense that under ordinary circumstances they would not be pregnant. One was a virgin; the other was beyond, way beyond, childbearing age.

Both were not supposed to be pregnant. But God was at work within them. To add to the unexplainable mystery, they both bore within their wombs mysterious babies. One bore the Christ, God’s only begotten Son; the other bore John the Baptist.

What does that have to do with us? What does this entire interchange have to do with how we live our lives? There are those who believe that life is all about having fun. Eat, drink, and have fun is their motto. They live for weekends when they don’t have to be on the job.

There are others who don’t want to pay attention to what’s inside themselves, who divert their attention from anything and everything that is spiritual. Their focus is on their bodies; they don’t want to admit that they have souls.

The spiritual, they ask? Who cares! John the Baptist? He was some kind of a nut! Jesus Christ? Who’s he? is their response. At another level, all of us must eventually face the fact that we are persons and that we are destined to live in interpersonal relationships.

All of us feel the call to love. Some of us are, however, afraid to love because love demands setting one’s self aside. Love demands that we be open, sensitive and vulnerable to others. Those who cannot love don’t stay married for very long.

Those who cannot love don’t have any good friends, and if they do their friendships are superficial at best. Those who cannot love, or those who choose not to love, are doomed to live only for themselves, doomed to love only their own selves.

As persons do we think we are bodies that happen to have souls, or are we souls clothed with bodies? How you answer that question determines how you will live out your life.

It’s what’s inside us that matters, not how we look, not how beautifully our bodies may be shaped, not how many possessions we have, not how much money we have, not what kind of jobs we have, or the professions we live in. It’s what’s inside us that matters; it’s the spiritual part of us that allows us to love, to have friendship, and to truly relate to others.

So what does the story of Mary and Elizabeth have to do with us? Well, Mary was carrying within her the Christ child. We, too, carry within us the presence of Christ. That’s why we pay such attention to Mary. She models who we are and what God is doing inside us.

There is a saying, “He (she) who is on fire cannot sit on a chair.” Mary, filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, hurried to the mountain country where Elizabeth lived, thereby conveying the Holy Spirit to her cousin and Elizabeth’s unborn child.

The Church is pregnant with the presence of Christ, something that we are about to celebrate in Holy Communion. And since the Church is not simply a building or an institution but the Body of Christ we, like Mary, need to carry within us the presence of Christ.

Not only that, but we carry within us the presence of Christ not just for our own sake, but in order to share Him with others. We bear Christ within us that we may bring Him to others in the world around us. So now we see the importance of the story of Mary and Elizabeth.

How we live our life can have a tremendous influence on others around us. We have the power to bring Christ’s love, compassion, mercy, and friendship to those around us, particularly to those who are close to us. John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb recognized Jesus in Mary’s womb and was filled with joy.

Others around us can recognize the presence of Christ within us and also be filled with joy. We can bring to them what their hearts are searching for. Yes, it may be hidden; the bond of friendship and love may be hidden from the eyes of others, but it will be no less real.

Elizabeth blessed Mary, crying out: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” May others who know us, others who have received our loving care and friendship, likewise bless us.

We need to carry Jesus to others as Mary did. We make a real difference in the lives of others by carrying Jesus to them.  However, we cannot give what we do not possess. Christmas is the ideal time for us to be filled with the spirit of Christ, allowing his rebirth within us.

Thus he enables us to share his love with all whom we encounter by offering them humble and committed service, unconditional forgiveness and compassionate caring. Amen.