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Monday, December 21, 2015

Nothing Is Impossible With God! Mary and Elizabeth Rejoice!

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
4th Sunday in Advent, Dec. 20, 2015
Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

Last Sunday, the Church celebrated “Gaudete Sunday,” where we were invited to rejoice because we had come past the halfway mark of Advent, and Christmas is near. 

Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Luke 1:39-45). As we prepare for the Birth of our Lord, this last Sunday of Advent once again gives us a time to rejoice. 

In today’s Gospel 
(Luke 1:39-45), we hear that Mary, pregnant with Jesus, makes a journey to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who is also pregnant, carrying John the Baptist.

Having learned the lesson that nothing is impossible with God, both Mary and Elizabeth rejoice because they  discovered that God had a unique plan for each of them. Even though they did not fully understand God’s plan and purpose, they rejoiced because they recognized that God had called them to participate in His plan of salvation.

By responding to God’s call to holiness, Elizabeth would become the mother of the last prophet, John the Baptist, and Mary would become the Mother of God. 

As we think about today’s Gospel and the gift of Christmas, let us remember that as Elizabeth and Mary rejoiced together, we too are called to rejoice. 

As Mary and Elizabeth were called to share in God’s plan for their lives, each one of us also is called to uniquely participate in God’s plan for our lives.  

Every one of us was born into this world for a special purpose, and today’s celebration calls us to discover what is our purpose. For it is only when we follow God’s will for our lives, that we will share in the same joy that Mary and Elizabeth experienced.  

Every human being has a mission. And, today’s Gospel calls us to reflect on what  mission God has prepared for us. Some of us are called to a vocation of marriage or religious life. Others are called to be fruitful in the single life. Some are called to be fathers or mothers. Some are called to a certain job or profession. Yet, in whatever we do, all of us are called to glorify God! All of us are called to live in God’s grace. Each one of us is called to eternal salvation.

Today’s Gospel teaches us that God is a God of life. In meeting Mary, Elizabeth recognizes this gift of life as she cries out in a loud voice,
“Blessed are you among women! And blessed is the fruit of your womb!”  John the Baptist
recognizes this gift of life even before he took his first breath as he jumped for joy when he heard the voice of Mary -- she,  who was carrying the Seed of the Author of Life within her own body. 

While still growing in his mother’s womb, John knew that he was in the presence of the One who would fulfill the message of the prophecy we hear in today’s first reading from the Prophet Micah. He foretold that from Bethlehem would come forth the “one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from old,” and who “will shepherd His flock by the strength of the Lord.” (Micah 5:1-4). 

Fr. John Paul Shea 
My brothers and sisters, today’s Gospel passage gives us time to rejoice! God has a plan for humanity. He has a plan for each one of us.

The sad part, however, is that many in our world today do not follow God’s plan of life. This is why we so many souls are lost. This is why we see so much sadness and hurt in our world. 

When we stray away from God’s plan for our lives we are missing the mark. We are ignorant of  who God is calling us to be in relation to Him.  When we turn away from this plan, we damage our relationship with God. This damage is eternal because our lives are eternal. But God does not want us to separate ourselves from Him. He wants us to share in His joy!
God wants us to experience the same joy that Mary and Elizabeth experienced in today’s Gospel passage. It is a joy that is given by listening to God and following His plan for our lives.
As we celebrate the gift of Christmas this week, let us thank God for the gift of eternal life that He offers us through His Son. Let us reflect on what God may be asking of us -- so that we can become all who He calls us to be and attain the gift of eternal life. 

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