HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C
THEME: THE JOY OF VISITATION
A story is told of a Primary School teacher who asked her pupils to write an essay on the topic “WHAT I WISH FROM GOD?” While marking the scripts the teacher found a strange essay written by one of her pupils, which made her very emotional. On seeing her tears, her husband asked”what has happened?”. She answered “Read this, it is an essay from a pupil in my class”. The essay reads
“oh God, make me a Television. I want to live like the TV in my house. For the TV is very valuable. All my family members sit around it and are interested in it. When the TV is talking, my parents listen to it with happiness. They don’t shout at it or quarrel with it; they don’t slap or insult it. It is the center of attention in my house. I want to receive the same special care from my parents, so make me like the Television in my house”.
After reading, the husband in a solemn voice said “oh poor kid, he is so lonely. The teacher looked at her husband and with tears from the eyes replied, “Our son wrote this essay”. At this point the husband broke down in tears.
Beloved in Christ, this Sunday is the final Sunday before Christmas and already the season of Christmas carols have begun and for some of us the joy of Christmas is limited to the gifts we receive during this season. But there is more to human life than the giving and the receiving of gifts, for the human being is a relational being and without relationship these gifts we offer will be useless. The visit of Mary to Elizabeth is a challenge to use the season of Christmas to develop new relationships and also to build on existing relationships. However, our world unfortunately presents us the idea that what matters most during this period is the material gift we give; creating the erroneous impression that with the gifts new relationships are created and broken ones are restored.
The readings this morning, therefore present to us in concrete terms a manifestation of the joy that comes from the presence of the Lord. This joy is the reason of the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. Throughout Advent, we heard of God’s promise to send a liberator- a Saviour into the world; today we catch a glimpse of how this will be accomplished.
Beloved in Christ, in the first reading, Micah the prophet delivered a message that brought great joy to all who heard it- a message of hope and deliverance concerning the one who is to be born in Bethlehem. Historically, this was during the year 750 BC, when the Israelites in Jerusalem were under attack from the Assyrians. The news of the Saviour filled them with joy and hope. However, it seemed that until such a time that the Messiah would arrive to deliver Israel from her oppressors, the Jewish people will continue to be subjects of other nations. But when He comes He will be the Shepherd of Israel and the servant of God. The coming Messiah shall have his origin from of old, the Messiah shall be God himself.
The proof that God would come to dwell with His people is found in the prophecy of Isaiah and its fulfillment is affirmed by the gospel of Matthew; where the name of the Messiah is said to be “Immanuel” which means “ God is with us”(cf Isaiah 7:14; Mtt 1:23). For the prophet Micah, this will be a delivery from the slavery of sin through the Sacred Blood of Jesus Christ. We therefore anticipate the fulfillment of this prophecy in Jesus’ coming. He comes among us as it were secretly and unnoticed, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
My dear Christ’s Faithful, the truth is that the Lord has already come to save us and we have to rejoice. We are not to rejoice alone but also allow those around us to share in our joy. We are not to brag over what God has done for us but to share with others by our gentle, humble and charitable services. This is to imitate Jesus Christ who left His exalted position in Heaven and came down to save us. In the same vein, Mary who also left her exalted position as the Mother of God and went down to visit Elizabeth and to help her.
Beloved in Christ, your position in life should not make you feel you are better than anybody. For instance, if you are more intelligent, have a better job or come from a prominent family don’t conclude you are better than others. Mary is our challenge, despite her favoured position, she remained humble and as caring as ever and her concern was to follow more closely the example of God.
We are therefore invited to make Christ more visible in all our actions within this season and beyond. We are to descend from our lofty thrones and identify with the poor and the weak. In this regard, we are to strive and make our churches and parishes not only Communities of Annunciation (where attention is paid to one’s relationship with God) but also Communities of Visitation (where attention is paid to needs of the others). For like the Blessed Virgin Mary who in the Annunciation received the message to be the Mother of God’s Son, went to visit Elizabeth despite all the inconvenience and the troubles of the journey.
This reminds us that Christianity then is all about caring and commitment to the needs and welfare of others, and they also reciprocate the same gesture to those in needs. It is a call to sacrifice for the good of the other. Again, Elizabeth’s praise of Mary is an invitation to eschew jealousy and envy by celebrating the blessings of God to others who have found favour in His sight.
I pray that all Christ’s Faithful, will prepare for the celebration of Christmas by repairing all broken relationships, for Christ came to restore our broken relationship with God and with one another.