Thus says the LORD:
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
and the rest of his kindred shall return
to the children of Israel.
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
and they shall remain, for now his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace.
Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
(R) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Brothers and sisters:
When Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.’“
First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, :Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
The beginning had been that angel coming to Mary. Considering the date of Jesus’
birth on December 25th, it must have been around March 25th. The angel greeted
her, saying: “Hail, full of grace!” That’s how it started: full of grace. That
grace was not some thing. That grace did not fill her like water fills a bottle,
or salt a bag, or books a box. That grace was her being taken up in God’s plan.
It was her mission. That grace was what she was going to mean to all of us.
The angel not only told her the role she was asked to play. It also said:
Listen, your Aunt Elizabeth conceived in her old age, too, and though old, she
is already in her sixth month. Mary, who had already said yes to her Lord, got
up, packed her things (she was still free; Joseph had not taken her into his
house), and hastened over the mountains and through the valleys to her aunt.
When I was a child, I remember I always wondered about the heroes in the books I
read. The cowboys and Indians, the supermen and superwomen of that, as well a
those in the cartoons I saw, and I am sure that most of you know what I’m taking
about. They did marvelous things, great things, didn’t they, but never did the
things that hold human life together and make it possible. You could read a
whole book without them ever drinking one cup of coffee or tea. They never
needed their mother or their father. They never had to go to a washroom. They
never brushed their teeth or polished their shoes. They never ate breakfast.
Well, except for Popeye maybe, but that was yucky spinach. I don’t know how he
ate that stuff, I still hate it.
Even now, I am sometimes struck with this thought when I hear about the heroes
of today, both good or bad, that is if there really are any, the good ones and
the bad ones. Do they ever live a normal life? Do they ever do an ordinary
thing? In the case of Mary, I never felt those difficulties. She had just been
made into a mother of the whole human future, but when she, full of grace, heard
about her aunt, she veered up, as only a girl of sixteen can do, and ran off to
help. I do hope that there are still some sixteen year old girls who would do
such a thing.
Elizabeth was in her sixth month, and she was very old. She was so old that John
began to tell on her in her womb. She was alone. She felt shy about her
condition. Zechariah, her husband, was a dead loss, since he had come back
totally dumb from the temple the very day she conceived. The water jugs she had
to fill at the well seemed heavier and heavier every day. She had difficulty
getting things washed on the rocks in the river. She sometimes had terrible
pains in her back because her old frame had difficulty accommodating that young,
jumpy, prophetic new life in her. And there was on one to massage her back from
time to time. Then one day she looked out her window and saw Mary coming around
the corner, her bouncy, healthy, you, robust cousin. She knew her trouble was
over, and she burst out in joy. Joy not only because she recognized in Mary the
mother of her savior, but joy also because she knew that Mary, full of grace,
would be a grace to her in her difficult days.
Mary’s extraordinary mission translated itself into ordinary action. Isn’t the
ordinary the test of the reality and relevance of the extraordinary? Isn’t the
ordinary by which we live? Isn’t the ordinary he came to save? Let us translate
the extraordinary in our lives; the Holy Spirit and all that in the ordinary
grace we should be to each other from day to day. But then, that can only happen
when we realize that it’s not about us. It’s about putting God first and others,
as Mary did.
It is my prayer that this message has been meaningful to you. Have a great week
ahead and give thanks for all the blessings that we have. God bless.