Homily – 20 December

A number of years ago Pope Paul V1 wrote a letter on Mary. He summed up the whole reality of Mary in a simple sentence. He described Mary as ‘she whose life was available to God” It was that availability that gave Mary the openness to say “be it done to me according to your word” when the Angel Gabriel told her of God’s wish that she should conceive and bear a son, a son she was to name Jesus.

In that same spirit of availability Mary went in haste into the Judean hill country to be with her elderly cousin Elisabeth who was also pregnant. Luke makes it all sound so simple, as if Mary hopped a bus or Go Train and took off for this visit. Most people of that time lived in isolated villages and travel was not a common thing. It could be that Mary hadn’t heard of or seen Elizabeth in years. The only way Mary knew of Elizabeth’s pregnancy was Gabriel’s word for it. Means of communication were very primitive in those days; no cell phones, no Blackberries. Town gossips did have a job to play.

For Mary to visit Elizabeth she would have to wait for a caravan heading in that direction, she would have to travel with people she knew. Mary certainly didn’t make this trip alone and Elizabeth would have been totally shocked when Mary showed up at her door. Mary was probably the last person Elizabeth expected to see. Elizabeth was expecting but she wasn’t expecting Mary.

Advent can be a time of waiting, wanting and watching, especially for children; how many more days til Santa comes, what will he bring me, when will the presents get here. There a bit of waiting and wanting and watching in all of us.

In this last week of Advent maybe we could wonder on something like this; who would we love to hear from, whether it be a phone call, an e mail, a visit, a Christmas card? For whom do we wait? Is it a brother or sister, son or daughter or once close friend whom we haven’t heard from in years? Do we wish to hear from or see someone from whom we’ve been estranged for a long time, a friend or family member with whom we’ve had falling out? Are we caught in a stubbornness that requires they call us first because we are convinced we were the wronged, we were misunderstood, unappreciated? Are we hurt because we did try to make contact with them at one time and never got a reply? Just think for a moment of someone you would really like to hear from and probably won’t – and hold that person in your prayers at this Mass. For whom do we wait?

More importantly we might ask ourselves who might be thrilled to hear from us? Who might enjoy a phone call or surprise visit from us, who would love to have us just drop by? It could be someone we’ve been meaning to visit for months but time just flies by and we are so busy. How many times have we said to ourselves ‘I must call, I must go see so and so’ a friend in a nursing home, a relative living alone, and then we file that good intention away?

Mary’s life was available to God; Mary was also available to others, like her cousin Elisabeth.

There was a song out years ago sung by a woman who had just given her boyfriend the boot. The refrain of the song was ‘flowers, perfume candy but you, you never gave me you, you never gave the greatest gift of all, you never gave me you.’ At this Mass Christ gives us the greatest gift of all – this is my body, this is my blood – this is me – take.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass may we be blessed to appreciate the fact that the personal gift of ourselves might just be the best gift somebody could receive – who do you think would love to receive that gift?

As we wait for Christ can we wonder is there anyone waiting for us?