Homily – December 20, 2015

In his letter to the Hebrews St. Paul tells us that these words, ‘I come to do your will, O God’ were the mind set of Jesus’ whole life. So often in the Hebrew Scriptures we hear God rejecting the temple sacrifices offer by priests who were just going through the motions of correct rituals but their life style gave the lie to the authenticity of their faith life. It was all performance. Their hearts were not in what they were doing. Jesus challenged and infuriated the religious leaders of his time for that same lack of authenticity, placing law before love and mercy. He told them that a heart obedient to God is a greater form of worship than any temple sacrifice. And he paid for his honesty.

In today’s gospel we meet three people who opened their lives to the will of God. Mary, Zechariah and Elizabeth, each said in their own way and in the circumstances of their own lives – I come to do your will O Lord. Because Zechariah and Elizabeth trusted in God’s promise John the Baptist came into our world to announce the presence of the promise one. Because Mary and Joseph said ‘yes’ to what God asked of them – take Mary to be your wife – be it done to me according to your will – these words of Mary ‘yessed Jesus into life and Jesus could say, ‘I come to do your will.’

We celebrate the event told in Luke’s gospel on the feast of the Visitation remembering when the young and pregnant Mary went in haste to be with her older cousin Elizabeth when she would give birth to her son John. Mary’s willingness to be there for Elizabeth is an example for us to be there for others in there time of need. As a parish family you are there for the families you are fleeing from the refugee camps in Jordon and welcoming them to Canada. Every time we are there for friend or stranger in need, in need of food, clothing, shelter, in need of sympathy, understanding, support or forgiveness we are there for others, just as Mary was there for Elizabeth, just as God is always there for us.

On one occasion Jesus told his listeners, ‘it is not those who say to me Lord, Lord who will enter the kingdom, but those who do the will of my Father in heaven, those say from their hearts, ‘I come to do your will of God.’ Words spoken must be words lived. Love spoken must be love lived. Forgiveness spoken must be forgiveness lived; peace spoken must be peace lived. Living not by words but by actions, each of us can live imitating Jesus Christ saying and living as best we can his words –I come to do your will O God, I come to do your will.