Fourth Sunday of Advent (C)

Is there anything more exciting in our world than children waiting for Santa? Sure there is: a pregnant woman waiting for her little love to be born. Today’s Gospel presents two such women. Mary and Elizabeth are bursting with anticipation, with expectation, they knew very well that not just their lives would be changed, but the world would be changed. They greeted each other, and the baby within Elizabeth, the future John the Baptist, recognized the presence of the Messiah within Mary. Both women proclaimed their gratitude to God for working His wonders within them[1].

            Perhaps, as a final preparation for Christmas, we can spend a few moments reflecting on the great Gift God has given us and focus on the gratitude we owe Him, because the great gift of Christmas is the gift of Jesus Christ and his incarnation.

There is a legend written by Soren Kierkegaard that could be useful for us to better understand what it means that God became incarnate and was made one like us[2].

            Once upon a time there was a king who was rich and powerful.  The King was very unhappy, though.  He wanted a wife to be his queen.  Now a political marriage could easily have been arranged with another country but that is not what the King wanted. He wanted someone whom he could love and who could love him. Only real love could fill his vast, empty castle and life.

One day the King was riding through the streets of a small village kin a remote corner of the kingdom when he came upon the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He immediately fell in love with her.  But there was a problem: she was a peasant girl, and he wanted to win her love, not buy her love.

One of his counselors told him to just command her to be his wife.  Any girl, especially a peasant girl, would jump at the opportunity. But the King would not do that. He could not command love. Besides, for the rest of his life he would wonder if she was a loving wife or a loyal subject.

Another counselor told the king to that he should call on the girl as her King, shower her with presents of diamonds and gold, and give her the opportunity to realize that he truly loved her. But the King would not do that. For the rest of his life he would wonder if she loved him or his wealth.

            A third counselor told the king to dress as a peasant so she would not be overwhelmed, and gradually reveal his power and position until she was ready to join him in the castle.  The king did not like the thought of deceiving her. If their relationship was based on deception, how could she ever love him? Finally, the King knew what he would do. He renounced his royal robes, his power and authority. He became a peasant in that remote village, living and working and suffering beside the other peasants. After a number of years, he won the heart of the beautiful young girl. He took his new wife to another village in another country, where no one could have guessed who he was. After many years, he became sick, and his loving wife cared for him. He died a peasant, but at his funeral the people looked at his wonderful, caring and in many ways extremely beautiful wife and said, “That man married a queen.” Well, God is the King. He is the Divine Lover. We are the object of His love. Only God would love so much that He would become one of us to win our love. St. Athanasius, an early doctor of the Church, wrote, “Because of his great love for us, Jesus, the Word of God, became what we are in order to make us what he is himself”[3].

             Well, this is the mystery that excites us. It is the same mystery that excited Mary and Elizabeth. They realized that they had each in their own way been chosen to be vehicles of God’s plan of love for the humankind.

          This evening [morning] let us be very grateful, let us give thanks with the Eucharist because God became man, because we can participate of the divine life. In other words: God became man, that we, men and women, we can live with God forever ■

[1] Sunday 23rd December, 2012, 4th Sunday of Advent. V. Micah 5:1-4. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved—Ps 79(80):2-3, 15-16, 18-19. Hebrews 10:5-10. Luke 1:39-44 [St John of Kenty].
[2] Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813 –1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology and philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables. He is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher
[3] Athanasius of Alexandria (Greek: Ἀθανάσιος Ἀλεξανδρείας, Athanásios Alexandrías) (296-298 –373), also referred to as St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and (primarily in the Coptic Orthodox Church) St Athanasius the Apostolic, was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His episcopate lasted 45 years, of which over 17 were spent in five exiles ordered by four different Roman emperors. He is considered to be a renowned Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century. He is remembered for his role in the conflict with Arius and Arianism. In 325, at the age of 27, Athanasius had a leading role against the Arians in the First Council of Nicaea. At the time, he was a deacon and personal secretary of the 19th Bishop of Alexandria, Alexander. Nicaea was convoked by Constantine I in May–August 325 to address the Arian position that Jesus of Nazareth is of a distinct substance from the Father. 

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris