Friday, December 21, 2018

Gospel text for 4th Sunday of Advent 23 December 2018

Luke 1:39-45        In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Reflection       This is the fourth Sunday of Advent and by now you probably have noticed something of a theme - preparing our hearts, the refiner’s fire, turning around to live from the inside out, and purifying our conscience. The question is why? Why all the fuss and preparation?

I believe the answer is, “So that like Mary we can fully and freely consent to with God life, so that we are available to be blessed.”  All of this is germane to our theme for the liturgical year, Finding God in All Things. You see, the more we examen our conscience, purify our hearts and live from the inside out the more we will be able to Find God in All Things. 

The Rev. Greg Boyle, S.J., author of Tatoos on the the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, has been serving gang members in Los Angeles for twenty years, finding God in himself and the gang members as together they grow in their life and work at Homeboy Industries. Here is a story Boyle told in an America Magazine article.*  

“Louie was 19 years old, a gang member making money hand over fist by running up to cars and selling crack cocaine. He quickly became his own best customer. After my many attempts to get him into rehab, he finally agreed to check himself in. He was there one month when his younger brother Erick did something gang members never do. He put a gun to his temple and killed himself. Gang members are much more inclined to walk into enemy turf and hope to die than to pull the trigger themselves.

I called Louie and told him what happened. He was crestfallen. “I will pick you up for the funeral,” I said, “but I’m driving you right back.” “I want to come back,” he said through his tears. “I like how recovery feels.”

When I arrive at the rehab center, Louie greets me with un abrazo, and once in the car, he launches in. “I had a dream last night—and you were in it.” In the dream, he tells me, the two of us are in a darkened room. No lights whatsoever. No illuminated exit signs. No light creeping from under the door. Total darkness. We are not speaking, but he knows I am in the room with him. Then, silently, I pull a flashlight from my pocket and aim steadily on the light switch across the room. Louie tells me that he knows that only he can turn the light switch on. He expresses his gratitude that I happen to have a flashlight. Then with great trepidation, Louie moves slowly toward the light switch, following closely the guiding beam of light. He takes a deep breath, flips the switch on, and the room is flooded with light. As he tells me this, he begins sobbing. “And the light,” he says, “is better than the darkness.” As though he had not known this was the case.”

Boyle reflects, “We cannot turn the light switch on for anyone. But we all own flashlights. With any luck, on any given day, we know where to aim them for each other. We do not rescue anyone at the margins. But go figure, if we stand at the margins, we are all rescued. No mistake about it.”

You see, blessing is shining our flashlights on with God life, regardless of the circumstance. Blessing compels us to know God more clearly, love God more dearly and follow God more nearly, in other words, blessing is finding God in all things

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