4th Sunday Of Advent
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: December 19, 2021
Think of the Bible and many different passages found in the Scriptures. What is your favourite passage? Which passage do you think is read and heard more than any other in the Bible?
It might be the passage we just heard, the greeting of Elizabeth at the visit of Mary, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb…” Each time one of us prays the Hail Mary, we hear these words of the Bible. Each time one of us prays the rosary, those words are repeated over fifty times. This greeting of Elizabeth is read and heard many times.
This is a good thing since this simple visit and encounter between these two women offers us an important vision for our own lives. Mary is such a great model for us as we try to follow the will of God in our lives.
We see Mary as an instrument of God. Through her God enters the world born as a baby. Though unique in Mary, each one of us human beings is also able to be an instrument of God entering our world. In fact, God chooses to enter our world through human instruments. How are you called to be an instrument of God? How does God enter the world through you?
We often think of some who do big things, famous things. Those who are well known and do great acts. We might think of the great saints through the ages. The problem with that is we think that surely I am too simple, I am too poor, I am not important enough to be an instrument of God in that way.
But, here again, Mary is a great model for us. Mary was not rich, she was not famous, she did not do something that was outstanding in the eyes of the world of the time. In fact, she was a woman involved in a scandal, pregnant before she was married to Joseph. Actually, the first response of Joseph was to quietly separate from her.
The birth of Jesus, the coming of God, began in the midst of a seeming scandal, not a wholesome and traditional family. It all began in this messy and chaotic situation.
We are also called to be instruments of God entering our world. Does not matter that our family is dysfunctional, messed up, as many of them are. Does not matter that I cannot do something big, famous, well known. God often enters the world through very simple acts of kindness. God often enters the world through simple, unknown people reaching out in goodness. God often enters the world in very messy lives and situations that seem very far from holy or pure.
So never think that you are not able to be an instrument of God entering our world today.
The greeting of Elizabeth takes place due to the visitation of Mary. She is pregnant and in a difficult situation, but the first thing she does is make a difficult journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth and to assist her in her time of need. Any time we visit someone as an act of kindness, to bring some care to them, then we are being an instrument of God. In any act of kindness we offer to another person, then we are being an instrument of God.
Look around, who is someone who needs a visit from you? A family member, a friend, a parishioner, a neighbour? Perhaps a simple phone call to someone who is alone. Perhaps a visit to someone who has had a difficult loss in the past year. Think of one visit you can make before or during Christmas. That will be the way that you can be an instrument of God entering the world, as Mary was such an instrument of God.
Our St. Vincent de Paul Society made dozens of visits this past week to people and families in our community. They went to deliver a package of gift cards that you donated during Advent. One of the persons who received the package sent me a message immediately. She is a single mother and immigrant who has many struggles. She said, “Father, I just received the package and I’m close to tears because it means a lot to us and words can’t express our gratitude.” Who would not say that God entered the world through that one visit by our St. Vincent de Paul Society?
That one passage of the Bible, the greeting of Elizabeth at the visitation of Mary, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb…” is repeated each time we pray the Hail Mary. Each time we pray that it should remind us of our own call to be an instrument of God entering the world today.