Fourth Sunday of Advent (C):
For many people, life should be lived according to their standards. They want people to be like them, or they’re in the wrong place. There are also those who do not like a world of inconveniences and of pain. Many seek easy life and a way out of hardships, as we note the following:
– While we are for peace and security, others go to war or quarrel with neighbors to defend rights supposedly trampled underfoot;
– While we show concern and service to fellowmen, there are those who live by stealing and killing, and abuse power for personal interests;
– While we seek wisdom and serenity in prayer and in community service and celebrations, there are those who adorn their lives with noisy celebrations and other unwholesome extra-family activities;
– While many have to work hard and honestly to make ends meet, others can afford to cheat for easy money, embezzle funds, and funnel resources to themselves at the expense of the ordinary working class;
– While many have to suffer poverty due to economic need, calamities, oppression and injustice, there are those who wallow in the comfort of affluence and power;
– While we prepare during Advent for Christmas, God’s gift of life to us, others want to enjoy life in the culture of death for convenience; and many other situations.
How do we respond to these? Certainly, this is not easy, but our readings today teach us that happy life is lived in grace-filled relationships, in selfless service and in the celebration of the advent of the Messiah in hope, as manifested by the visit of Mary to Elizabeth, and in the response of John in the womb of Elizabeth; all these because they believed.
Furthermore, we learn the following:
1. Mary’s visit to Elizabeth was not merely a relative’s visit, but a humble act of the King and God of the universe to visit His estranged people to whom He promised redemption from slavery to sin.
2. Elizabeth’s proclamation was her expression through the power of the Holy Spirit that God has visited His people.
3. Mary served Elizabeth’s need not so much because they were relatives, but because God was now serving His people.
4. John’s movement in Elizabeth’s womb was his response to the visit of his Lord and to the truth that man can do nothing without God.
Thus, under the loving eyes of our Mother Mary, we are encouraged to prepare for the coming of Her Son:
1. By becoming His instruments of hope. Writing about “a brighter and more humane world,” Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Spe Salvi, says: “The Kingdom of God is a gift…. and constitutes the response to our hope…. We can open ourselves and the world and allow God to enter: we can open ourselves to truth, to love, to what is good…. We can free our life and the world from the poisons and contaminations that could destroy the present and the future….. we can make a right use of creation, which comes to us as a gift…. it is the great hope based upon God’s promises that gives us courage and directs our action in good times and bad” (#35). Be, then, faithful to your responsibilities and legitimate relationships to bring out that joyful hope in others.
2. By living a life of prayer. In the same encyclical, Spe Salvi, the Holy Father says: “Praying…. is how we can speak to God and how God speaks to us…. It is an active hope (also) in the sense that we keep the world open to God” (#34). Pray for hope; pray unceasingly and gratefully.
3. By offering the little inconveniences and sufferings to God. Again, the Holy Father speaks: “Those who did so were convinced that they could insert these little annoyances into Christ’s great “com-passion” so that they somehow became part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race. In this way, even the small inconveniences of daily life could acquire meaning and contribute to the economy of good and of human love” (Spe Salvi, #40). Let not the little sufferings go to waste. Offer them to God for worthy intentions.
4. By becoming absorbed in and living God’s life now. We fully know that there will be a last judgment. At the end of time, it will be a joy to hear the Lord say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…. Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (cf. Mt 25:34-40). Serve others, then, as if you serve Jesus.
Let us make this Advent a season of Hope; our Christmas, a season of Love; and every day, a moment with God. Let the Eucharist we celebrate impress in our hearts Jesus’ visit to His people now, until He comes again.