FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR C
Readings: Micah 5:2-5, Heb. 10:5-10, Luke 1:38-45
Views from the pew
- Sharing and celebrating faith (Sharing faith experience)
- The Spirit of Christmas
- The joy of visitation
- The blessedness of those who believe
- Mary and Elizabeth are filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit. “He (she) who is on fire cannot sit on a chair.”
- Mary and Elizabeth are filled with life and faith.
- Honouring the Madonna
- We need to carry Jesus to others as Mary did through her visitation to Elizabeth.
- We need to bless and encourage the young generation cf. Gen. 49.
- We need to recognise the real presence of the Emmanuel (God is with us) and say yes to him.
- Mary pilgrimage should be our model
For the past three weeks, we have been preparing for the coming of the Lord. In the first week we focused on the promises of the Lord’s coming and that gave us hope. The second week we focused on repentance and that was motivated by the love of the Lord. The third week we reflected on the transforming effects of the Lord’s promises and the call to repentance which resulted in Joy or happiness. Today the wonderful effects of the three weeks of intense preparation for Christmas and the second coming of the Lord have culminated in PEACE.
We are already in the Christmas week and we need to reflect the spirit of Christmas. That spirit need to be embraced and shared in the course of our Christmas celebration.
The first reading gives us a very clear prophecy about the coming of the Lord and His personality. It identifies the Lord as “From ancient days” – A SONG: ANCIENT OF DAYS. It means He is eternal and God.
That prophecy is quoted by the chief priests and scribes when Herod the Great asked them where the king of the Jews was to be born: “And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written through the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, land of Judah, art in no wise least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come forth a governor, who shall be shepherd of my people Israel (Matt. 2:5-6).
Later on, when the Lord started teaching, preaching and healing; some were astonished and they identified him as a prophet and some said he was the Messiah. But the big question arose, where was He from? From Galilee or Bethlehem? “Some of the multitude therefore, when they heard these words, said, this is of a truth the prophet. Others said, this is the Christ. But some said, what, doth the Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said that the Christ cometh of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was? So there arose a division in the multitude because of him” (John 7:40-43). Thus, the chief priests and the scribes knew the prophecy but they did not believe in Christ.
In contrast, I am greatly fascinated by the drama of Mary and Jesus, Elizabeth and John. These characters are great icons of our Christmas celebration. Let us take Mary for instance. She is a woman that Elizabeth said “And blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).
That statement exposes Mary as an embodiment of faith but interestingly, she is disposed to share her faith experience with Elizabeth and John. That experience came about after she had received the message of her divine motherhood from God through the angel Gabriel. How did she share her faith experience?
VISITATION: Visitation is a great ministry and it is rooted in the gospel: “I was sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me” (Matt. 25:36). Through visitation, Mary shared the joy of her conception of the Son of God and she used the opportunity to appreciate God for her cousin Elizabeth whom God had wiped away her sorrows of barrenness. Instead of Mary to be envious and jealous of her cousin, she hastily went off to share her joys with her. What a good gesture we ought to emulate. Stop been afraid, go home and see your people. Your presence is what matters not necessarily your money and other valuables. A STORY OF MY VISIT TO THE HOSPITAL (Fr. You’re your gifts. What I needed you have given me and I sincerely appreciate – your presence and prayers). Again, through this encounter, she brought Jesus to sanctify and if you like according to commentators baptise John the Baptist.
Unfortunately, phones and social media/networks have almost replaced visitation. But the effects of visitations can never be replaced by phones and social media.
Visitation we have come to know has mutual benefits. The visitor and the host stand to benefit immensely from the act of every visitation. Like in this context of Mary and Jesus, Elizabeth and John; Mary discovered her role and mission in her life, she had the opportunity to serve her elder cousin, she had the privilege to bring Jesus to bless John in the womb of Elizabeth and she was blessed by Elizabeth – “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb”. This is one of the parts of the Hail Mary Prayer. Elizabeth also said: “And Blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).
May I respectfully use this opportunity to encourage my young stars, the youth to be always available to serve the elderly and adults generally in need of care just as Mary did to Elizabeth. On the other hand, please you elders should be disposed to bless our youths with jobs, empowerments, promotions, sponsorship in business and politics and a host of other ways.
REQUIREMENT FOR VISITATION
The second reading talks about the sacrifice of the Lord. One who left his majestic throne in order to visit our sinful world and deliver or liberate it. That required a great sense of sacrifice. And as His followers, we equally need a spirit or sense of sacrifice in order to create time and share our faith experience through the ministry of visitation. We need to sacrifice our time and resource just as Mary did in the gospel of today.
REWARD FOR SHARING FAITH
In the course of the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, Elizabeth spoke the following words: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).” Elizabeth had already blessed Mary or declared her blessed. Note that all the teachings, preaching and healings of Jesus were meant to elicit faith from us and to eventually reward us with happiness. Hence the eight beatitudes of Jesus from Matthew 5:1-12.
It is not enough to say “I believe”. You have to back up your words with deeds and your deeds are the things that will last longer into eternity. Religion is not merely sentiments but deeds/actions.
In conclusion, Christmas is here again, and it is a special period for us to demonstrate our faith experience by bringing Jesus to people through the ministry of visitation. For in doing so, you will influence people beyond telling and you too will stand to benefit a lot.