December 23, 2012


Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. Luke 1: 45

   Ours is a faith that evokes an openness to the discovery of ever new insights, a faith that inspires us to rise above the ordinary. Our faith asks no less of us than to risk everything in the cause of things-as-they-ought-to-be. It urges us to embrace St. Paul’s vision of a new life, not just at Christmas but every day: “The old has passed away, behold the new has come” (2 Cor. 5: 17).

   There is a story told of a woman in a convalescent home celebrating her 100th birthday. A reporter came to interview her & asked “Do you have any children?” Her reply: “Not yet!” In some ways ours is a “not yet” faith. The mystery of the crib & the cross is not yet fully penetrated, & so we learn to expect the unexpected as we try to follow Christ (not unlike driving in Italian traffic).

   A foreman in a brass foundry was taking a new employee on a tour of the plant. He explained, “Nothing can break one of these crucibles when they’re hot, but anything can break them when they are cold.” He added, “It’s pretty hard to break a man whose spirit is hot, but even little things will break him when his spirit goes cold.”

   The New Testament tells the story of those whose hearts were burning with desire to open up the world to God’s love as it had been  revealed to them in & through Christ; by men & women whose spiritual temperature was hot every day. There will always be Christians whose vision of life rises above the ordinary, who are willing to risk their lives for things as they ought to be. There will always be genuine disciples who will endure to the end in the face of all kinds of trials & can still say, “The old has passed away, behold the new.”

   Today’s Gospel passage is filled with expectancy. It is the familiar story of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, & both women are pregnant. Elizabeth is expecting one who will become known as John the Baptist; Mary is expecting the Son of God. In this tender encounter, Elizabeth’s spiritual temperature soars. She “was filled with the Holy Spirit” as she said to Mary, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a son & call his name Jesus, she was disposed, by the grace of God, to rise above the ordinary, to expect the unexpected. So she could reply, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word.”

   Blessed are those of us who can believe that God’s word to them will be fulfilled! Blessed are the genuine “not yet” disciples of Christ whose love for God & neighbor will not grow cold, but will endure throughout eternity.  AMEN!