Liturgical Year C

Fourth Sunday of Advent; Travelling in Christian time

One of definitions for our (western) generation would be people who are moving all the time. This is especially true when we talk about days before Christmas. Everybody is travelling somewhere – from holidaymakers who are about to start their holiday on some exotic 2000 miles away Pacific island to people who are just on their way to the closest mall for some Christmas shopping.

Today’s Gospel starts with travelling as well. Mary hurried to Zechariah and Elizabeth. However, she had much better reason to travel than people I’ve just mentioned. She was running into a special encounter with Elizabeth. The main characters are not these two women, but their unborn babies. At this point I found it better if some women who actually have personal experience of pregnancy continue to write this homely. This special, unique feeling when a woman starts to realise that her unborn child is moving in her womb, remains to be secret to a man. But there is something that every single Christian can feel and it is related to the encounter of two mothers – at first a big surprise and then joy.

It is a surprise because Mary is travelling in rush and hurry to us, too! She wants to show that our God has really become one of us and, at least speaking for myself, that makes me surprised knowing how unworthy I am of that kind of an encounter. But if anything can attract God to approach me and make me his little Bethlehem is my poor hard, my empty hand. So how not to be happy to say joyful thanksgiving to God who is not afraid of the real me, so poor, selfish and stubborn?

Our God is a compassionate God and He knows that we are on our life journey which is a long process of being born. We know that this process will finish with our new birth – the birth for heaven. One of the best texts which can show us this was written by Thomas Merton, a well-known American monk and spiritual writer in his famous book The Seven Storey Mountain:

In another sense we have already arrived.

We cannot arrive at the perfect possession of God in this life:
That is why we are travelling and in darkness.
But we already possess God by grace.
Therefore, in that sense, we have arrived and
Are dwelling in the light.
But oh! How far have I go to find You
In Whom I have already arrived!

Dublin, 2012.

21.12.2012.Author: p. Antun Volenik, SJ
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