• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Thursday, 20 December 2018 17:34

Fourth Sunday of Advent - Year C - 2018

Written by

Fr Larry Nemer SVD 150The “Visitation” story told in today’s gospel has become one of my favourite passages – thanks to two school girls.

Over the years I read many commentaries on this passage written by the Fathers of the Church.  They seemed to focus on three ways in which Mary modelled for us what it means to be a follower of Christ: she showed great concern for her cousin Elizabeth; she was courageous enough to make a three-day journey on her own; and although she had already conceived Jesus, the Son of God, she was ready to be the servant who would look after her cousin.

The Fathers of the Church speak glowingly about the quick response of Mary to the news that her cousin Elizabeth was already six months pregnant.  She herself was still a teen-ager but her cousin was much older.  She realized that Elizabeth would need a great deal of extra help in the last months of her pregnancy.  And so she quickly rushed off to be of help to her cousin.  This is what Christians are called to do – to respond to the needs of others joyfully and quickly.  And Mary becomes a model for us.

The Fathers of the Church also seem to be amazed by the courage of Mary on this occasion.  The gospel does not mention any companion that she might have had on this journey.  She was still a young girl, and yet she was willing to make a three-day journey to be with her cousin who would need her help.  Fear of what might happen to her on the way would not hold her back.  She put her concern for her cousin above any fear that she might have had about the journey.  We Christians too are often called to put our fears behind us when we see someone else in need.  In this too Mary becomes a model for us.

But what seemed to amaze the Fathers of the Church the most was that Mary, who was just told that she was to become the Mother of the Son of God – and Elizabeth confirmed that on meeting her – was willing to become the servant of Elizabeth with John in her womb.  She did not see herself as someone who had to be honoured and served; rather she praised and thanked God for what had been given her.  But she wanted only to serve.  We Christians too are called to serve others and not wait for others to serve us.  Mary is a true model of humble service for all of us.

However, there was one aspect of this event that the Fathers never seemed to allude to – and what the school girls taught me about – the absolute joy and happiness of the two women at being pregnant (when they never expected to be) and the laughter they must have shared as they talked about their experiences.

This lesson came to me a number of years ago when I was still living in Chicago.  The parish priest in the parish where I helped out on week-ends had to go away the week before Christmas and he asked me to take care of the week-day Masses.  One of the teachers said that her children had been practicing the Christmas story and she was wondering if they could act it out in place of my homily at one of the week-day Masses.  I told her that would be lovely.  “I should warn you, though” she said, “I do let them improvise their own lines.”

So after the Gospel one girl came out in front of the altar and looked to the back of the church where there was another girl and shouted: “Mary, is that you?”  “Yes,” she said, and they ran towards one another and gave one another a big hug.  Then Elizabeth said: “Mary, I am pregnant”.  And Mary said: “I’m pregnant too!!!”  And they laughed and hugged one another again and then walked off excitedly talking to one another about their pregnancy.  At that moment I realized that the girls taught me about an aspect of this mystery that no Father had talked about – the joy and excitement of the women about being pregnant and their desire to share that with one another.  In this too Mary is a model for all Christians.  We too are called to be joyful and excited at God’s coming into our lives in the most unexpected ways.

This is such an important aspect of the mystery of Christmas.