Sunday, 21 December 2008

4th Sunday of Advent, Year B, Shaftesbury

Today is the final Sunday before Christmas, the final Sunday for us to prepare ourselves to be ready for it.
In order that we might prepare ourselves well, every year, on this final Sunday, the Church focuses our intention on the person of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the one who welcomed Christ into the world 2000 years ago, and she is the one who can help us welcome him into our hearts today.
And I want to pick out ONE thing in her that we can take as a role model: her humility, in particular, her humility in doing the will of someone else.

Jesus speaks a lot about humility in the gospels. In fact, humility is the one thing that He tells us to learn from Him, “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart”(Mt 11:29), He said. Humility is a virtue that is put to us repeatedly in the gospels, and in the very life of Jesus. He showed us humility in action in putting others before himself when He washed His disciples feet. He showed us His humble willingness to suffer insult and shame by His death on the cross. He showed us humility in becoming a tiny baby in the manger of Bethlehem. And He showed His humility in the agony of the Garden, in Gethsemane before he died, when He sweated blood but nonetheless said, “Not my will but Thine be done”.
In the Old Testament we hear how God used to come to Moses, and spoke to him face as face, as with a friend, because Moses was humblest man on earth. In today’s gospel we heard how God came in a unique way to Our Lady, she who was humble and obedient, who said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord”(Lk 1:38). When she agreed to do not HER will but the will of someone else, of God.

Jesus does not come to everyone:
Jesus comes to those who have a heart like His heart, a heart that is humble. He doesn’t come to the proud, He tells us that they will be cast from their thrones, while the humble and meek will inherit the earth.

Humility is also what we need if we what there to be peace in our homes this Christmas. A family where everyone is thinking of themselves only can be a nightmare at Christmas. But a family where everyone has the humility to think of other people before themselves, to think of what other people need and what other people want, is a family where there is peace. In fact, a family where just some of the people of thinking of others is peace: we can’t wait for everyone else to be humble before becoming humble ourselves: “I’ll think about what they want when they start thinking about what I want”. No. Jesus was humble first.

In His mother too He showed us humility. She was humble enough to accept the will of God. She was humble enough to accept the will of God before her own. How? Because she was humble of heart there was room in her heart for God to come and dwell. And if we are humble then He will come and dwell in us too. As we sing in the Christmas carol O Little Town of Bethlehem, “where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in”.

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