Fr. Rudy's Homilies
4th SUNDAY IN ADVENT - 2009
Finally, on the morning of her birthday, her husband called her into his study room. Her husband told her how proud he was to have such a good wife, and told her how much he loved her. He handed her a beautiful wrapped gift box. Curious, the wife opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the wife's name embossed in gold.
Angrily, she raised her voice to
her husband and said, "With all your money, you give
me a Bible?" And stormed out of the house, leaving her
But before she could make
arrangements, she received a telegram telling her that
her ex-husband had passed away, and willed all of his
possessions to her. She needed to come back
immediately and take care of things.
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country (Luke 1:39)
"Those days" are the first days of Mary's pregnancy - of the pregnancy of a young girl - probably less than 15 years old - of the pregnancy of a young and unmarried girl living in a small village where such a thing would bring untold shame - no, not UNTOLD, but rather frequently told gossip, that would shame her, her family, and her child for ever. In THOSE days, Mary flees her village and heads for the far away hills.
Travel for other than (religious purposes) was often considered deviant behavior in antiquity. While travel to visit family was considered legitimate, the report of Mary traveling alone into the "hill country" is highly unusual and improper.
Now this is also the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy. (This is the "in the sixth month" of Verse 1:26.) But unlike Mary, Elizabeth's pregnancy has taken away the disgrace she endured among her people. (See Verse 1:25.) For unlike Mary, Elizabeth had been barren, and she and her husband Zechariah were getting on in years. And unlike Mary who had no husband, the angel Gabriel announced their pregnancy to Zechariah:
Even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will ... make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke1:15-17).
This is the child - whom we know as John the Baptist - who leaps in his mother's womb at the sound of Mary's greeting to Elizabeth.
Normally speaking, matters having to do with the womb are not talked about in public. This is women's talk and it is usually kept carefully within the private circle. ... The fact that Luke reports such female conversation here suggests that he considers the reader a family insider.
Therefore, before moving too quickly to the magnificence of Mary's Magnificat, it is perhaps wise to pause and sit within the intimacy of these two women's conversation. To consider ourselves not as distant outsiders, but as invited and welcomed extended family into a blessed conversation between these two women.
Does anything leap for joy within us? Can we feel the stirring of new life? Of age old hopes? Of the impossible longing becoming possible?
And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord (Luke 1:45)
And blessed today are we who also believe.
Mary's song of praise, Verses 46-55, pretty much summarizes the teachings of Moses and the Prophets.
Anyone who thinks the Good News of Jesus Christ is only about one's personal, individual salvation / forgiveness / justification / redemption will have a hard time preaching this text. This is a text about social reversals / transformation. Those of us who are proud, smart, powerful, high status, and well-fed have a tough text to hear today.
But the text today has moved from a young girl fleeing in shame from her home to that same young girl's soul magnifying the Lord, and her spirit rejoicing in God her Saviour.
We may not need to flee in shame, but the text is calling us to also move; to also move from whatever space we are in to a space of seeing and naming and rejoicing in all the deeds God is doing to restore the creation to its fair balance.
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