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Monday, December 20, 2010

Mary and Elizabeth - Showing us the Way!



Homily – Tuesday, December 21, 2010

There are two very different but profound messages given to us today in the gospel and through the examples of two remarkable women;

Mary and Elizabeth.

Let’s begin with Mary – As we all know, she was carrying Jesus within her womb and what does she do Does she withdrawal from the community and hide away with this treasure? No – she ventures out into the world with a plan to give service to Elizabeth. Carrying the person of Christ, His love, His grace, and His power, she sets off out into the world, allowing Christ to be present to others.

I can’t help but wonder if we are applying Mary’s example to our lives as well. Each week… and for some of us - each day, we receive Christ through the Holy Eucharist; Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. He becomes as real within us as he was within Mary, and what do we do after Mass? Do we go home and hid him from the world? Or, do we, like Mary, go to great effort to share him, and show him to others?

I was once asked by a group of Protestants what the main difference was between our faiths. My mind immediately filled with explanations of the Sacraments, Mary, the Mass, but then it hit me. I explained to this inquiring group, that we did share many similarities, yet there were some significant differences.  One of those unique and significant differences is our belief of relationship. As Catholics, our primary focus on spirituality is not just a “Me and God” relationship  where it is entirely about a personal relationship with God. But rather, a common relationship, shared by a larger group of people, called to serve each other, to love each other, to care for and live for each other. You can see how there is a significant difference; one understanding is quite self-centered in the “God and me” relationship. And the other, is just the opposite, it is self-less and truly sacrificial. The group of Protestants had many more questions, but I could tell that this explanation was effective in opening their eyes and broadening their understanding of the depth of our catholic faith.

The other example from today’s gospel is that from Elizabeth, who immediately identifies and is aware of the presence of God in her midst. How many of us are able to recognize when God’s spirit is upon us? How many of us can see and are aware when God places someone filled with grace into our midst? What power or ability did Elizabeth possess to so clearly see Christ, even Christ hidden within the womb? She had the same ability that we have;  it is the Holy Spirit,  but she was not hindered by distractions, nor obstacles that can distort so very well. One might even say that she had prepared herself well through living a good life, a holy life, a life that enabled her to truly see the world and its effects so clearly.

This preparation was not unique to Elizabeth, it is the same preparation that we are all called to partake in. It has a lot to do with patience, faith, and participating with God when he acts in our lives. Elizabeth shows us that even after being barren for so many years, desiring a child, she doesn’t give up hope, she perseveres, Living an honorable life, caring for her husband and those around her. And when God chose to finally act, giving her a child, even in her old age, she accepts, trusts the Lord, and nourishes the gift placed into her womb. Did she boast of the miracle?

No, rather instead, she remains humble and thankful; in fact what is her initial response when Mary arrives….. Elizabeth doesn’t focus on herself, but rather states: “How does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” She possessed true humility.

When we place our focus and attention on others, and not on ourselves, our ability to see God’s presence in and amongst our lives becomes so clear.

When we live simple and pure lives, allowing time for contemplation, for prayer, and for serving others, this allows Gods’ spirit to manifest itself completely and radiates free from selfish person desires and self- absorbency.

It is difficult to see Christ in others when we are constantly only looking at ourselves.

Mary and Elizabeth have shown us through their life example, a way of embracing our Lord, a method for seeing him in and amongst our lives.

It is through accepting Christ, sharing him unselfishly with others, living simple and humble lives, lives of charity and service that enables His spirit to shine.

It is by following the examples of these 2 holy women that Christ is made visible and present in the world.

Now it is up to us to participate in God’s holy work,
as we partake in the Eucharist,
listen to his voice,
ask him to guide you,
Strengthen you,
and motivate you,
and then…. share him with the world!

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