Mary “traveled to the hill country in haste” (Lk 1:39) and when she and Elizabeth got together they rejoiced in the gift of new life that God had blessed them both with. We are to rejoice too, as we remember the gift of the conception and birth of Jesus. Jesus invites us to experience a new life. What we are about to celebrate in a few days had never happened before in human history. The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, fully divine, became one of us. He became a human being, fully human, just like one of us. That affirms that we are not junk, not someone’s trash to be kicked around. Our life has purpose and meaning because we are loved by God more than we can ever imagine!
We are all invited to be recreated, each and every day. Have you ever wanted a fresh start, a do-over? Well, here you go. Don’t believe the mind noise or other people who will actually tell you in subtle or overt ways that you are worthless or nothing. Not true! Just by our very being, the reality that we exist, says something. We have been created in the image and likeness of God and we have been created by Love to receive and to share the love we have received. We are a living craving hunger and desire to be in communion with God and one another. This is true for the atheist and the believer alike. We are called to will the good of the other as other and as they are, unconditionally. If we haven’t been all that loving lately, today is a new day to take Jesus’ hand and begin anew.
We are about to celebrate a baby’s birth. Not just any baby, but he who has always been, became the most vulnerable, who took on flesh as an embryo, developed as an unborn fetus, and was born as an infant, and wrapped in swaddling clothes. Mary’s Son would continue to grow, mature, and thirty-three years later, return to an even more vulnerable position on the Cross, beaten, scourged, naked, and crucified. He was born and tabernacled, made his dwelling, among us, to be one with us, so that when he died he could take our sin upon himself. Original Sin did not destroy us. We were wounded, but by his stripes, the scourging that Jesus endured for us, we have been healed. He conquered even death, that we could have life and have it to the full, now and through all eternity.
Jesus was born for us and he is still with us that we might not only be shown a better way but to know him, who is the Way. Jesus became vulnerable for us, being authentically who God called him to be, even when that meant rejection, time, and time again. May we too be willing to be vulnerable, to risk, to share with others who we are, free of masks and pretense. May we be present, and also walk and accompany one another. Being there for our family and friends is important, and if we take our Christianity seriously, we must come to acknowledge, in concrete ways, person to person, that we are all brothers and sisters. Just as the sun shines on the good and the bad alike, Jesus died for us all. After his Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit, the Love shared between the Father and the Son, to empower us to live as he did, in communion with his Father, to better actualize our communion with one another.
Mary and Elizabeth celebrated the joy of new life, they rejoiced together at the announcement that each of them would conceive and bear a son. The other message they share with us because they realized it all too soon, is that life goes by too fast. Each of their sons would die a brutal death, yet God brought about a greater good from their willingness to sacrifice their lives for us. They gave us a new beginning for humanity.
Let us not take the gift of this life we have been given, any moment of it, for granted. Let the people we care about know that we love them. Make that call, send that card, and/or invite that person for a walk and when you are together, be present, be there with each other. Put the phone down, leave work at work, face conflicts and work through problems that arise together, and as best as we are able just be present to one another.
May we be respectful, kind, and caring in our interactions with each person we encounter in our daily moments. If you catch the eye of another, smile. In that simple gesture, we say to another that we care enough about them to acknowledge that they exist and that they have worth. Even behind our masks, our eyes smile. Let the joy of Mary and Elizabeth catch like wildfire in us this Advent and let us share with haste the joy of Jesus we have experienced in our life!