Sunday, December 23, 2012

"...That Very One I had in Mind!"

Readings for December 23, Fourth Sunday in Advent 2012:

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2012

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
December 23, 2012

Maula Powers is a storyteller. In an issue of Catholic Digest some years ago, Ms. Powers told about a creature called the "Advent Teufel." The word in German means devil.

According to an old German folktale it is an Advent devil who tries during the Advent season to keep people so busy in other affairs that they lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas. The Advent devil doesn't want people to have time to experienced a rebirth of Christ within themselves.

The temptations of the Advent devil are diabolically clever. He makes it so easy for us to go along with the flow of seasonal celebrations. The Advent devil's business is to keep us all busy with holiday obligations that we forgo daily prayer, Scripture study, and even Mass. Some of us have been fighting the Advent devil this year. Hopefully, we now have him under control. Just a couple more days, I hope you are in a position to use that little bit of time that's left to focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

Our lesson from Luke's Gospel takes place some months before the birth of Christ in fact, Mary has only the recently learned from the angel that she will bear a child, a child conceived of the Holy Spirit. Almost immediately, Mary decides to visit her older cousin Elizabeth. This meant she had to travel about 100 miles south to the hill country of Judea.

This would be about a five day journey, an amazing trip for a young teenage pregnant girl. It's disconcerting to realize that Mary would have been about in the ninth and maybe the 10th grade when this happened to her, by our reckoning. And maybe this played a role in her decision to visitor Elisabeth. After all, for having a child out of wedlock she could be stoned for adultery. At the very least she could be rejected by Joseph and parents and village.

Elizabeth was married to a priest named Zachariah. Elizabeth was a descendent of the Hebrew people's first high priest, Aaron. They were a deeply religious people. Luke describes him as being righteous.

Elizabeth was also pregnant for the first time. She would also face ridicule. The source of Elizabeth's social torment however would be her age. There would be those who would whisper to their friends, "isn't she too old to have a baby?" Elizabeth was far beyond normal childbearing years yet, in fact Gabriel came to her long before he came to Mary to announce her sons coming.

Elizabeth's son was not divinely conceived any more than you and I were, but his birth was significant. He would be the forerunner of the Messiah. And of course we know him to be John the Baptist.

Elizabeth and Mary were quite the pair: one of them being too old to be a mother and the other too young. But both were in the hands of God.

And of course you and I know full well the Magnificat that came from the exchange of these two mothers.

And one last story: Tom Long tells the story of the church drama group presenting Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" in the church fellowship hall. The final scene calls for Scrooge, now transformed and joyful, to greet Christmas day by throwing open his window and shouting, Merry Christmas everyone! He peered out into the street looking for someone to deliver Christmas presents for him to the needy of London.

The actor playing Scrooge was actually facing the audience through the window, and was to act as if he saw a street urchin passing by. "Hey, you boy, you there!" He shouted, "Come up here, boy, I got something wonderfully for you to do today!"

Then the unexpected happened. A six-year-old boy, sitting in the audience with his family, spontaneously stood up and walked out onto the stage. He had seen Scrooge looking at him, and he was ready to do something wonderful. The actor playing Scrooge was faced with the dilemma. He had to do something, and he didn't want to embarrass the boy. He finessed it beautifully. "Yes, indeed!" He said, "You are the one, that very one I had in mind!" Then he triumphantly led the boy back to his seat in the audience, thanked him and returned to the stage some thought it had even been planned.

From with in the story of Christmas, do you hear a voice calling you? Merry Christmas, Jesus has something wonderful for you to do for Him today!

Be Good, be Holy, preached the Gospel always and if necessary use words!

'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

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