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Reflection Of The Week

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Fourth Sunday of Advent 2021: Fr. Bill Edebohls

Mary was a young woman when she was pregnant with Jesus. Her Jewish faith told her that God
had not forgotten his people, even though they suffered under the tyranny of Roman occupation.


She grew up hearing the Hebrew Scriptures proclaim that God liberates his people. But when and
where was that liberation to be found?


Then, completely unexpectedly, the angel Gabriel’s message to Mary challenged her to think the
unthinkable – that she would bear the child who would bring God’s liberating power into the world.


Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly she believed and she replies to Gabriel, “Let what you have said
be done to me”.


In today’s Gospel, Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, also believes the unbelievable, and in her old age,
pregnant with John the Baptist, calls Mary blessed, because she believed God’s promises to her, as
wild as they might seem to some.


Blessed is another way to say that Mary was closely connected to God. That connection brought her
a sense of confidence, purpose, and serenity. That connection brought us Jesus. Mary believed and
acted.


How about you and me? God’s promises still seem unbelievable to many. Peace to all people.
Enemies forgiving and reconciling. Justice for the poor. Acceptance of the outsider. But those
promises are fulfilled in our world when people like you and me do what others consider
unthinkable.


It seems crazy to forgive that person who disrespected you, taunted you, hurt you, betrayed you,
gossiped about you. But if you do it, God’s promise is fulfilled.


Why waste your time helping those on the margins or being there for someone who is alone in a
nursing home? Visiting someone in prison? Supporting the hungry and homeless? Speaking out
against injustice? Demonstrating to protest the degradation of the environment – God’s creation?
Standing up for the rights of those unjustly treated? Because if you do it, God’s promise is fulfilled.


Why put yourself out by supporting the refugee, befriending an asylum seeker, embracing anyone
ostracised by our nation, our church, our community or our own family? Because if you do, God’s
promise is fulfilled.


You can be the instrument of God’s promise. Listen to the angel voices that whisper to you
innermost heart, think the unthinkable, and respond “Let what you have said be done to me”.


Be like Mary this Christmas. Do the unthinkable and you will experience the sense of purpose,
confidence, and serenity that comes with being blessed. And, just maybe, the Christ within you may
be born again today, tomorrow and every day.

REFLECTION


Walk Gently…….  God - with - us


Nearing the end of Advent - a time of joyful preparation for the great feast of Christmas. A waiting, longing and hoping, already-but-not-yet time. The Liturgy invites us into a world where the urgency to prepare for the longed-for Saviour is palpable. And we may identify with the longings expressed by our ancestors in our sacred texts: the longing for the way to be smooth, for the path to be clear, for justice to reign. To find some relief from the anxieties of the times. These are echoes of the deep timeless hopes we all carry for our lives: for peace, for joy, for all to be right with the world. To be forgiven.


For some, it heralds a period of intense loneliness. A time when memories of a past, happier life are strong and shoulders are cloaked with a longing not just for what was before but for who we were then. And for some of us, life just goes on. The daily burdens remain: illness, suffering, mourning loved ones, financial strain, relationship worries - their weight the same regardless of the season.


In the midst of this diversity of our various lives we are called to take the opportunity to invite people once again into the world of the Emmanuel, God-with-us.


In that great story of redemption and hope, Les Misérables, the character of Jean Valjean reflects that to ‘love another person is to see the face of God.’ And this, I suspect, is what we see more clearly at Christmas time. In Jesus, we see the face of God. And when we sit at a table at Christmas and we look at the faces of God among us, when we remember those for whom we mourn, we know that this celebration of the birth of Jesus means that we do not walk alone, that the stone is always rolled away and that the world is a graced and holy place because God is here.


So, let us walk a little gently over the last of these sacred Advent Days and open our hearts to allow Jesus to be part of every busy, messy step. And on Christmas night, may our voices join with the voices of the angels and the shepherds and sing, ‘Joy to the world, the Lord is here!’

 

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