December 21, 2019 – Saturday of the 3rd Week of Advent
Click here for the readings http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122119.cfm
A surprise visit from a friend or a family member, whom we have not met for a long time, would always bring joy. I remember when my maternal grandparents were still alive; sometimes we would pay a visit to them unexpectedly. I would always treasure the happiness that our visit would bring to them. It was a delight to be kissed by my grand-mother despite having no teeth at all. That small gesture would always create smiles and warm hospitality to people who are dear to us.
In today’s Gospel story, Luke tells of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. This seemingly ordinary visit of a cousin reveals to us the wonder of one’s presence being gifted to another.
Mary who welcomed and received God in her life is filled with God. This fullness of God in Mary made her more aware of the needs of others. This moved her to respond immediately to her needy cousin Elizabeth. Mary knew well that Elizabeth needed help and so she responded with willingness. This visit of Mary was, indeed, out of love and generosity.
This tells us too that when we allow God to fill us with His presence, the more we become aware of the presence of other people. This reminds us too that when we are truly filled with love, love makes us more aware of the needs of others. Why?
Because being filled with God’s presence means love. And love is never selfish. It never goes inward but always outward. Never passive but always active. True love and true concern overflows from us and thus, making us free to share our love to those who are in need. That overflowing love is kindness and generosity. This was how Mary responded to visit Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard the voice of Mary, Elizabeth was filled with joy, which also made the child in her womb to leap for joy. The very presence of Mary brought comfort and joy to Elizabeth and to her baby. The reason for this was, Mary brought the Lord closer to Elizabeth and to the baby.
The fullness of God in Mary was shared to Elizabeth and to the baby. The words of Elizabeth expressed this fullness, “blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Through the very presence of Mary, Elizabeth and her baby in the womb felt that God has visited them. Mary’s willingness and openness to God made her the bearer of God’s loving presence to her cousin Elizabeth. Indeed, Mary’s visit, though simple, was a great gift for Elizabeth. This calls us too that, as we prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas and share our materials gifts to our friends and family members, never forget the gift of presence.
Each of us too has that capacity to bring God’s presence to others. As we are coming closer to the birth of Jesus, we are called that through us, others will also feel God’s presence. We do not have to do big and great things but simple actions and words to people who need our assistance and help, our presence and person. A generous action and word to a person next to us would also be enough to let the person feel that God is present.
Allow God today to visit us. And may God’s visit fill our hearts with his presence and love so that we too shall be able to bring that fullness to others. Make an effort to let ourselves be made aware of the many needs of the people around us.
Thus, never deprive others of your presence because God has never deprived us of his presence. God took the risk of meeting us even though it will cost him pain and suffering and even death, because each of us is a delight to him, so dear to him. Hence, I would like to invite you then,
To maximize the greatness of the gift of your presence especially to those family members or friends who are sick, lonely or depressed. Visit them and assure them of your loving presence.
And also, as you will be busy this Christmas, never forget to embrace one another, to spend quality time with your loved ones. Put down your smartphones and talk to each other to make real human contacts with those who are physically near you.
In these ways, hopefully, we shall be able to respond to God’s invitation in by becoming ourselves an extension of God’s presence to others. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR