Dec. 20, 2015: 4th Sunday of Advent C
Click to hear Audio Homily
What do you want for Christmas? It’s a common question that we’re asking during this season. One Catholic mom asked other Catholic moms on social media, “What do you want for Christmas,” and she received the following replies: a repainted kitchen, a day at the spa, a maid, a night away with my husband, and the most requested item--a nap. I asked that very same question, “What do you want for Christmas?” to a very different group of folks recently, and I received the following replies: peace in my family, forgiveness for my sins, and eternal life. Can you guess to which group I asked the question? The nursing home residents. I replied, “Why are you not asking for new clothes, new TV, or new cosmetics? They replied, “We don’t need it.”
Christmas is only a few days away. By this time we have purchased gifts, decorated our homes, mailed our Christmas cards and attended parties. Even though we have accomplished so much, is there still an empty feeling? Have we forgotten to wait patiently, to long for the Lord?
The word advent means the arrival of a notable person or event and so during this Advent season there should be a sense of waiting. If there is something we don’t do well during this very busy season, it is to wait. The past three weeks, we should have been longing for the Lord to arrive. Yet when we have to wait, even for a few minutes, we often become impatient with each other--at least, that was what I heard from the folks this week at the penance services. A waiting person is a patient person. The word “patience” means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere. The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are. Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. Waiting, then, is not passive. It involves nurturing the moment, as a mother nurtures the child that is growing in her womb.
We see that patient attitude toward life in the two women in our Gospel today--Elizabeth and Blessed Mother. Before she was pregnant with John, Elizabeth spent her whole life waiting for a child, not with resentment but with hope. Blessed Mother faced an unexpected pregnancy. With trust, she surrendered to an unknown future held in God’s plan: “Let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).
Perhaps what we could ask for this Christmas are patience and trust--two of the virtues that Blessed Mother possessed. Elizabeth spoke highly of her cousin’s patience and trust when she said, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Do we believe that even when things are not going our way that God will never leave us and that He cares for us? Do we trust that God’s intention is to provide for our needs and to listen to our prayers? We all have been there, when we doubted God’s faithful love for us. Perhaps as we wait for Our Lord’s arrival on Christmas, we should ask Elizabeth and Blessed Mother to help us grow in our patience.
-Fr. Paul Yi