Thursday, December 20, 2018

4th Sunday of Advent Year C (Gospel: Luke 1:39-45) Blessed is she who believed

 In the Bible there are several characters who were called ‘blessed’ because of their faith.  Abraham was told that he would have a child when he was almost 100 years old and his wife was also an old woman. By our way of thinking it couldn’t have happened, but he believed and it did happen.

Zachariah was told his wife Elizabeth would have a baby, even though she had been barren all her life and was now also an old woman. When the angel Gabriel told him this he found it hard to believe and said so to the angel. The angel Gabriel wasn’t too impressed and said, ‘I am Gabriel who stand before God. Since you have not believed me, here is a sign for you. You will be struck dumb until the time comes for this to happen.’ And he was struck dumb until after the baby was born. So even though he doubted, it still happened!

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would have a child, but not by human means. She believed, even though she didn’t understand, and it happened. The angel also reminded her that ‘nothing is impossible to God.’ 

All of these people and many others too, were told to believe, even though it didn’t make any sense to them, but they believed even though they didn't understand. When Mary visited Elizabeth, Elizabeth said to her, ‘Blessed is she who believed that the promises made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’ I wonder would many of these things have happened if the people involved had refused to believe until they were sure, until they were able to know these things were true; until they were proved?

At times like these when there is so much upheaval in our Church, it can be very difficult to believe. God seems to have abandoned us, or we find ourselves asking, how could the Church be from God, from what we are hearing. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. It is difficult to believe at the best of times, but we cling to our faith, because it comes from God. The Lord is with us and has always been with us. We must not be afraid of earthly structures that change or indeed collapse, because they are only earthly structures. That is really what we are seeing: earthly and human structures changing. Why is all this happening? Because God loves his people and in his mercy He is bringing about changes that are absolutely essential for us to grow. It is the mercy of God that is allowing all this to happen and it is for our own good. And even though it is difficult and painful right now, that is where we are called to believe that God knows what He is doing and will see us through all of this and out the far side.

I don’t understand but I believe. I believe that the Lord is with us and will always be with us, so there is no reason to be afraid. Perhaps a good thing to focus on now right now is the mystery of Christmas in its simplicity. God visits his people in the form of a totally helpless new born baby. Angels appear in the sky to announce this strange event. But they don’t announce it to the great people of the time, they announce it to the poorest of the poor who are looking after the animals in the fields. The king goes mad out of jealousy and fear and tries to have the baby killed. All these things are quite bizarre and seem almost like a fairy-tale from a human point of view. But we believe them because it is God who has made them known to us. 

In this mass, in a few minutes, God becomes present to us in a tiny piece of bread we call the Eucharist, or Holy Communion. How can this be? Many people consider the such an idea pure madness. But we believe it because it is the Lord who told us these things. There is so much that we don’t understand, but God has never asked us to understand these things, only to believe them, because He has made them known to us. The Lord has promised us that He will always be with us to guide us, and He has also promised us that the darkness cannot overcome the light. If we believe that, then there is nothing for us to be afraid of.

Blessed is she who believed the promises made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

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