Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 19, 2021

Sister Clare Carr, OSB reflects on the scripture readings: Micah 5:1-4; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45

Recently, I had the privilege of meeting a new grandniece.  She was all of a week old.  She was just perfect.  Everything about her was beautiful and gift.  Her parents, my nephew and his girlfriend were filled with such joy, that it brought tears.  She was a long- awaited treasure.

In today’s readings we meet another moment of joy reflected in the story of Mary reaching out in haste to be with her older cousin Elizabeth.  I like to imagine these two so filled with wonder, and perhaps fear for the unborn children they carried. They needed one another.  Perhaps Mary needed a reassurance that her experience with the angel Gabriel was real.  How was God a part of all of this.  What did this mean?  Surely Elizabeth would have some womanly advice and guidance.  In some ways Elizabeth served as a spiritual director, a companion in Mary’s journey.  Each of them carrying a mystery, that I would think most pregnant mothers experience-mystery.  The changes in their bodies and in their spirits.  The uncertainty of what lies ahead for them and their children, their hopes for their children, their wonder at this miraculous happening. Each of these women giving over their bodies to bring about the plan God had for them and for their offspring.

Mary had a lot to consider:   Would Joseph understand, or would he abandon her? Would Mary’s community cast her aside?  Would they go so far, as to stone her for this out of wedlock pregnancy?  What shame would her unborn child have to live with?  Mary’s “yes” was a tremendous act of faith.  She had to trust in the protection of God and to surrender to a future she did not expect.

Today many children who are born to loving families, but we also have a grievous loss of the many children, 600 million, who are being aborted.  Children who could grace this world of ours with their presence, their giftedness, their wisdom, and their intellectual offerings.  It is numbing.  Numbing- I believe that we as a people have become numb to the cries of these lost ones.  We have lost our way, by choosing an easier way at the time, but at a serious cost.

I also grieve for the mothers who have felt they needed to make this decision.  I know as a therapist that often in the lives of those mothers, they will experience an even greater loss as they mature.  For some they are not able to have other children and for many they carry a deep shame

And what of the fathers who often do not take any responsibility for these unborn children.  They continue to engage in unprotected sex.  Adding only more heartbreak. 

What does this call us to?  I believe that it calls us to reach out to those who are vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies.  It calls all of us to take responsibility for the care of our communities, especially our young, teenagers, the economically disadvantaged, and women who are exploited for sex.

Our Lord came as a vulnerable child.  God entrusting us with this amazing love.  We have a God who wants to be as close to us as possible.  A God who would enter our struggles.  A God of simple means. A God that was…

“Unexpected”  (Kneeling in Bethlehem by Ann Weems)

Even now we simply do not expect to find a deity in a stable.

Somehow the setting is all wrong:

The swaddling clothes to plain,

The manger too common for the likes of a Savior,

The straw inelegant,

The animals, reeking and noisy,

The whole scene too ordinary for our taste.

And the cast of characters is no better.

With the possible exception of the kings

Who among them is fit for this night?

The shepherds? certainly too crude,

The carpenter too rough,

The girl too young.

And the baby?

Whoever expected the advent of God in a helpless child?

Had the Messiah arrived in the blazing light of the glory

Of a legion of angels wielding golden swords,

The whole world could have been conquered for Christ right then and there

And we in the church—to say nothing of the world!-

Wouldn’t have so much trouble today.

Even now we simply do not expect

to face the world armed with love. May we choose to love and to pray for those who find themselves caught in the drama of choosing to end a pregnancy.  May there be mercy, may there be mercy on all.


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