20 December 2009. 4th Sunday of Advent
Micah 5, 1-4; Psalm 80; Hebrew 10, 5-10; Luke 1, 39 – 45
We remember that the message of the Annunciation was that both Mary and Elizabeth would become pregnant. The visit of Mary to Elizabeth confirms what the angel had told her, and it was a proof that God kept His word. Elizabeth’s words also confirmed Mary’s pregnancy: she knew about her pregnancy too. She greets her, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Sharing their pregnancies was a reason for so much joy. James A. Wallace in his book, Preaching to the Hungers of the Heart, tells us that “Mary is a model of responding to God’s grace and the Spirit’s counsel as she goes forth to be with Elizabeth and to utter the prophetic song that proclaims the agenda of God and her willing part in it.”
Mary sings the Magnificat, the prophetic song. She sings about how God reverses all plans and designs, defies conventions, chooses the weak instead of the strong and lifts up the lowly like Elizabeth and her. Mary sings with gladness! She sings because she knew she doesn’t deserve to be the mother of the Savior, nor does Elizabeth deserve to be the mother of a future prophet (all she asked was a son!). And in their being ordinary, God broke into their lives. The reaction of both women was not surprising for common folks. I have seen the difference when one gives a gift. One Christmas, I gave the same CD to two different persons: a poor and a rich friend. They both acknowledged the gift, but one can’t stop thanking me for remembering her. My friend from one of the urban poor areas where I was once assigned was elated more than the one from the affluent subdivision. Indeed, when one has nothing, a little gift means a lot!
Mary does not sing about herself, but about God: ever thankful why God has broken into the lives of two simple insignificant persons such as Elizabeth and her. God’s attention means a lot to them! And if Mary and Elizabeth experienced God’s personal preference, then God would do the same for many of us who are simple, insignificant, lonely, lowly, poor, and ordinary. In fact, Mary’s description of herself is this: “I am the handmaid (a servant, a slave girl) of the Lord.”
The world’s standard has it that kings are born of queenly rich women. God’s standard is its reverse. We are all unworthy to be in the presence of God, or for any visitation from God. His arrival on earth is not our achievement, but God’s. God chose us, thus, He has made us worthy of His breaking into our lives. And this is the reason of the deep joy of Mary and Elizabeth: a sharing of the experience of God’s preferential option to those who are poor.
Today, the Gospel encourages us to be like Mary and Elizabeth. We develop the habit to share not just our personal problems and opinions, our ideas and daily routines, but include in our conversations, the stories of how God has visited our lives. We prepare for the visit of the Lord in our ordinary lives by preparing our hearts as we prepare our homes to our visitors, and opening our doors to God’s graceful entry into our lives.