Sunday, December 20, Fourth Sunday of Advent

Things are happening and on the move in the Gospel this 4th Sunday of Advent.  Mary travels “in haste” and, once her voice is heard by Elizabeth, the infant in her womb “leaped for joy”.

Like the birthing process, both women in this Gospel passage are pushed out of themselves with a joy alive and kicking.  Any woman who has had the chance to carry life inside her womb knows this overwhelming experience.  I recall how my sister Anne burst into tears when she first heard her child’s heartbeat inside her.  If only we were so moved by our faith; faith we take for granted; faith more stillborn than alive.   Our hearts are too often unmoved by the Mystery of the Word become flesh.  It is a Mystery that continues to enter our world in hidden, inconspicuous ways and right where we live: “Jesus in his distressing disguise” as Mother Teresa put it.  That’s not only the poor; it’s you and me.

Our faith, if it hopes to live in any credible manner, must push us out of ourselves and beyond our confining worlds; worlds where, too often, we cling to our resentments and fears rather than the Living God.  Perhaps this is what Christ meant when he said to Nicodemus:  “You must be born again.”  Only when we allow this to happen will we ever know the joy both Mary and Elizabeth share; a joy born of God and not of our own making. 

Both Mary and Elizabeth—these two courageous women—show us an important aspect of belief.  As ith birth, faith has its own timing.   They allow God to let things happen in God’s time, despite their questions and fears.  They place themselves in the hands of God who knits within them both the fulfillment of promise.  Both show us that God often chooses to work in tiny, embryonic ways and within the ordinary cycle of life.

Recently, I read in the Sports section of the Seattle Times an article on the former Seahawk player Brian Bosworth; the “Boz”.  The brash-talking and obnoxious Boz as the article described him.  I was in the Monastery during his time with the Seahawks, yet I did hear of him inside the Cloister.  I remember the hair more than his play on the field, unfortunately.

That’s all changed.  The Boz is gone; at least the persona in which he lived.  In a way, he’s been pushed out of himself and has “found humility”.  He explains it in his own words:

I’ve lived my life so impatiently, and I fought to hurry things up and not allow God to let things happen in God’s time.  And I wanted it to happen in Brian’s time.  As long as I continued to try to fight that battle, I knew my life was always going to be in a sense (one) of frustration and high anxiety.

How impatient we are so often: with God, others and ourselves, too.  How often we fight God and the mysterious nature of His will.  To believe means learning to be patient and to trust God who wants only to bring to birth in us the good that leads to joy.  This means letting God work within the God-given time that is our life.

May this Advent and Christmas Feast push us out beyond ourselves and bring to birth in us the joy of God’s presence.


Father Tim Clark, Pastor

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