Fourth Sunday of Advent, 2015
By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
December 20, 2015
December 20, 2015
"Blessed are you who believe that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."We all like to get our way. Okay, I won't speak for everyone. So let me rephrase that, 99.9% of us like to get our way as often as possible (myself included of course). Okay, I don't really know the exact number, but my guess is, it's pretty high. From a very early age we start striving to make sure that our wants are being met (even long after we start realizing that others have needs, wants and feelings too). And so, we grab toys away from other kids. We beg mom and dad to make our favorite food for dinner. We want to have absolute control of the TV. (Who can stand those shows adults watch anyway?) And we cry and throw tantrums when things don't go our way. (But I don't want to go to bed now!)
And unfortunately for many of us it doesn't stop as we grow older. It just continues. Oh, don't get me wrong, we don't want it to be too obvious. We're way too smart for that. And so we do our best to disguise our deep desire to get our own way by compromising and giving in from time to time (so that we don't look like big jerks).
But if we are being totally honest, many of us secretly hope our wants and desires get met. And so, will do things like try to convince our teacher to give us a true false or multiple-choice test rather than one that requires an essay. And we don't like it when our parents won't allow us to throw a party for our friends or won't buy us the latest expensive gadget. We want our boss to use our ideas in the workplace and not someone else's. We want to pick the movie when were going out on date night (and choose the restaurant beforehand!). We want our family vacation destination to be our choice alone. We want the final parenting decisions (such as discipline) to be ours -- and not the other way around. (I know the best way to handle kids, right?) And we certainly want to get to pick the car we want to buy for the family. That's a given, the list could go on and on and on.
"Blessed are you who believe that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."That's Elizabeth speaking to Mary as we just heard in our Gospel passage from Luke. What an incredible beautiful (and wise) sentiment! Elizabeth is expressing something that lies at the heart of living a faith-filled, grace filled life.
And it is this: true blessings arise not only from the utter graciousness of God, but in cooperation with the human heart that is willing to believe, to trust, to hope, and to surrender fully to God's way. Mary was profoundly blessed (and passed that blessing onto the world) not simply because she heard God or knew what He was asking of her, but because she trusted enough to accept and embrace the path God had laid out for her.
Mary knew that God's way is always the best way. And she was more than okay with not getting her own way. It doesn't even seem to have been a consideration.
"Blessed are you who believe that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."Had Mary chosen "her way" things might have been much, much different. Think for a minute. If she would have chosen for herself (considering only her own needs, concerns and wants) -- would she have wanted to be pregnant and unmarried? Would she have wanted potentially to face a lifetime of ridicule and gossip and shame? Would she have wanted to risk being beaten or stoned? Would she have wanted her motherhood to start out with so many questions, uncertainties, and worries?
Would she have wanted the child whose life was probably going to be unlike that of any other child ever born, a child whose life would lead down paths she could never even imagine? I think we know the answer. But that wasn't what was important to Mary.
It shouldn't be for us either.
Advent is rapidly coming to an end. In a few days we will once again welcome the Lord Jesus into the world, into our hearts, into our lives. And our God comes to us not simply for a visit, not simply for a short time, but to be with us always. He wants to dwell with us and within us-- shaping all that we say and do. And He wants to speak to us in the deepest recesses of our hearts, wants to invite us to help Him in his sacred work -- wants us to help Him shower the world with love and mercy and compassion and generosity. Put simply, God is going to be asking a lot of us-- as he does each and every day. Too often (sadly) we hear-- but don't listen, hear -- but don't act, -- hear but don't have the courage to put our wants and desires far behind those of our loving God.
And so we look to the Blessed Mother as an example for us all-- a woman who had enough faith to hear God speaking to her through an Angel, a woman who had enough trust to say, yes, to whatever God was asking of her, and a woman who hoped deeply and confidently in God's promises. Elizabeth saw in her, just how blessed Mary was for listening to God and saying yes to Him. May we do the same each and every day.
The Father does know Best!
So you all be Good, be Holy, preached the Gospel always using Words and Holy Actions.
'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.
- "Advent and a Sense of Scale"
(December 20, 2015)
- " 'Have No Anxiety At All' "
(October 18, 2015)
- "Good Advice from the Mother of God"
(January 1, 2015)
- "Gamaliel and the Centurion"
(September 14, 2014)
- "Gideon, Gabriel, Mary, and Guts"
(December 21, 2014)