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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C, 20 Dec

1st Reading Micah 5:1-4a
2nd Reading Hebrew 10:5-10
Gospel Luke 1:39-45

Every year around this time, a particular town would come into prominence.

Because the name of that town would be mentioned in Christmas cards, in scripture readings, and maybe even in holiday tour brochures.

Well, needless to say, that town is Bethlehem.

I think it is a town because that is how the Christmas carol goes: O little town of Bethlehem…

Whether it’s still a town or whether it has become a city, I am not sure because I have not been there yet.

But I would like to go and see Bethlehem.

Besides being the birthplace of our Saviour, Bethlehem has a deep faith significance.

Bethlehem was the fulfillment of a promise, God’s promise.

We heard about that promise in the 1st reading.

We will hear about it again at the feast of the Epiphany when the wise men asked about where the infant King of the Jews was.

But let us remember that from the time of the prophecy by the prophet Micah, which we heard in the 1st reading, to the fulfillment of that promise with the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, it was a 700-year wait.

Now 700 years is a long wait, a very long wait.

That makes me recall a joke about a man who had a burning question to ask God.

So finally, God appeared to him and asked him what was his question.

So the man asked: O Lord, how long is a million years to you?

God answered: Like just a second.

Then the man asked: Then how much is a million dollars to you?

God replied: Like just a cent.

Then the man asked: So can I have a million dollars?

And God replied: Sure, just wait a second.

So, we just have to wait, whether it is just a second ,or for 700 years, we just have to wait, because what God has promised, He will certainly fulfill.

But it is not just a question of waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

It is also the question of believing that God’s promises would be fulfilled.

Today, the Gospel shows us how Mary herself came to believe in the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Today’s Gospel presents us with the scene of the Visitation.

There are a few reasons why Mary went all the way to visit Elizabeth.

Earlier, at the Annunciation, she had been told that she herself would conceive the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

At the same time, Mary was also told that her kinswomen Elizabeth, who was said to be barren, was in her 6th month of pregnancy, and that nothing is impossible for God.

So Mary went to visit Elizabeth to see for herself this marvelous wonder that God has worked in Elizabeth.

In doing so, Elizabeth also confirmed for Mary the even greater wonder that the Son of God has been conceived, and conceived in her.

Through this occasion, both Mary and Elizabeth grew deeper in their faith in the Lord’s promises.

Both Mary and Elizabeth kept pushing in their faith in the Lord’s promises.

But what did they push? Well, it’s not so much a physical kind of push, but a spiritual kind of push.

When I say spiritual kind of push, I mean to say that PUSH is an acronym.

PUSH is an acronym that stands for Pray Until Something Happens.

Indeed, for Elizabeth, she prayed that God would remove her barrenness, and then something happened.

For Mary, she prayed for God’s fulfillment of the coming of
the Messiah, and then something happened, and it happened in her!

So whether it is God’s promises or our desperate petitions, let us just PUSH, let us just Pray Until Something Happens.

Meanwhile, we just have to Wait and Push; wait and pray until something happens.

Let me share with you a story about waiting and praying until something happens.

The director of a big company plans to retire and he intends to choose among his top executives the next CEO.

So he called all of them together and gave them each a seed.

He told them: Plant this seed, and after 6 months, I will call all of you to show me how your plants are doing.
The one with the most healthy and beautiful plant will be the next CEO.

So all the executives brought back their seed and planted it.

One of the executives by the name of James, a hardworking and honest man, did the same.

He chose the best soil, sowed the seed in a nice pot, watered it, put it under the sun and waited.

And he waited and waited for it to sprout.

After one month, nothing happened. After two months, nothing happened.

He got a bit anxious, and asked his fellow executives how their seeds were doing.

All of them said that theirs have sprouted and growing into beautiful plants.

James got worried and he added more fertilizer, watered it, put it under the sun, even prayed over it, and waited.

Three months passed, and nothing happened. Four months passed, still nothing happened.

By now, the executives were showing off their plants to each other, and James was feeling dejected.

He thought to himself: I can’t even grow a plant, how can I become the CEO.

But he still did not give up hope. He added fertilizer, watered it, put it under the sun, and of course prayed over it, and waited.

Five months passed, nothing happened. Six months passed, and the day came when the executives were summoned to bring in their plants.

Now James was resigned to be a laughing stock, as he brought his pot with nothing growing, and he felt like a fool.

The executives placed their plants before the company director and he inspected the plants.

When all was over and done, the director said: I have inspected all your plants, they are all very beautiful.

I will now announce the one who will be the next CEO of the company. The next CEO will be James.

Everyone, including James, were surprised, bewildered.

The director then said: The seeds I gave all of you were actually dead seeds. They have been boiled over. They could not have sprouted.

So James will be the next CEO, because he has the honest and integrity to head the company.

Well, just a story to help us understand we may have to wait and PUSH, wait and pray until something happens.

But even if nothing happens, even if nothing seems to be happening, God will still keep His promises.

After all, He promised to send His Son and He has fulfilled that promise.

But whether it is God’s promises or our petitions, let us join Mary and Elizabeth in waiting and praying.

It is in waiting and praying, that something is happening.

Like Mary, in waiting and praying, something is indeed happening… and it is happening in us.