Friday, December 21, 2012

Gospel Reflection

December 21, 2012
Friday – Advent – Year of Faith
Sixth Day – Misa de Gallo
by Rev. Fr. Juan Manuel Perez
(Chaplain, Entrepreneurial Management Program, University of Asia and the Pacific)
5:00AM Mass – UA&P Chapel, Ortigas Pasig City

Reading 1 Sg 2:8-14

Hark! my lover--here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Here he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices. My lover speaks; he says to me, "Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come! "For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come, and the song of the dove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance. Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!

"O my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the secret recesses of the cliff, Let me see you, let me hear your voice, For your voice is sweet, and you are lovely."

or Zep 3:14-18a

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21

R. (1a; 3a) Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield,
For in him our hearts rejoice;
in his holy name we trust.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.

Gospel Lk 1:39-45

Mary set out in those days 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, "Most 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."


Mary is a woman of faith, a woman who believed what God promised her, even though what God asked from her were impossible things. She was told that she will be a mother, she will conceive, and she will remain a virgin. She was told that she will conceive the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, that she was to carry in her womb, her Creator. She was told that the old barren woman, her cousin Elizabeth, was in her sixth month of pregnancy.

Using reason, Mary could have said, "All these things are impossible. It doesn't make sense. Give me proof, something that, from the human point of view, will help me accept what I was told." But she did not. Mary accepted the will of God for her, with the confidence that God is almighty, and, therefore, nothing is impossible for God. Mary accepted the will of God. Hers was a faith that is manifested in deeds. And in today's Gospel, one of the manifestations of the faith of Mary is presented to us.

The Archangel Gabriel told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth, an old woman, has conceived a son. That was impossible because Elizabeth was barren and way, way past the age of childbearing. When her husband, Zechariah, was told by the same Archangel Gabriel in the temple that his wife will conceive, he could not believe it. That is why, a little punishment was given to him and he remained mute. He lost his capacity to speak until their child was born.

Mary accepted the fact that her cousin, Elizabeth, has conceived, and she used her intellect to realize that the information was given to her so that she could do something about it. Therefore, in a hurry, without wasting time, Mary started a long journey to the house of Elizabeth and Zechariah. She was not told directly that she should go there and give a helping hand. Hers was an intelligent faith, a faith that blinds reason. And yet to the consequences of it. Mary was always ready to understand and carry out the will of God. She went to her cousin Elizabeth and remained with her for three months.  

It is very beautiful how the faith of Mary led her to service, led her to forget about herself, and to live her life thinking of others, with humility, spiritual service, generosity, and a spirit of sacrifice. All of us would have understood perfectly well if Mary would have said, "After having conceived in my womb the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and be the mother of God, all I need to do now is rest, because I am carrying the Son of the Eternal Father, whose Kingdom will have no end." We would have understood if she remained resting, taking cared of, and not exerting any effort, but she did not act that way. The Holy Spirit prompted her to spend the first three months of her pregnancy, working, doing household chores, serving others, filling the house of Elizabeth and Zechariah with songs, with cheerfulness, with affection for two very special persons - one was mute and could not speak, and the other one was an old woman who is carrying her first child, and will deliver her first child. So in that house, she was carrying the burden of day-to-day activities. The meals, the laundry, the cleaning, fetching of the water.

And I am sure that the influence of Mary not only affected Zechariah and Elizabeth, but the entire neighborhood. She was new in that neighborhood - a very young, beautiful girl, who came to help her cousin. And the house got the joy of Mary. That house became the house of God, for a few months. Heaven was looking at the house of Elizabeth and Zechariah, as the house where God was living, where God is being carried by a woman - a woman of faith.

In your life, and mine, we have to accept what God has revealed to us. We have to be sensitive to those calls, to those demands, to those inspirations that God places in our life. Many times, those insinuations can be blocked, can be shelved, can be pushed aside, when there is an opportunity. But if we are men and women of faith, we pray. If we are attentive to God's inspiration, if we are docile, then we will discover calls from God. Perhaps calls to be more attentive to the needs of others, instead of being all wrapped up to ourselves. We should be very clear in understanding that we need to forgive and change our attitude towards people. At times, we are being demanded by God, in a very gentle manner, to be more generous in our spiritual sacrifice, in our self-denial.

At times, God unveils for us our vocation, His plans for us. And our action could be, "Yes, Lord, I exist to carry out Your will." Or our response could be, "Prove it. I want evidence of it. I cannot do anything unless you give me a sign."

Mary did not act like that. Mary received the word of God, the will of God, the plan of God for her. And she acted with faith, with trust, with confidence. That is why when Elizabeth saw Mary, she greeted her, "Blessed are you among all women", because Mary has believed in the message, in the plan that God has communicated to her.

With faith and trust in God, with confidence in doing the will of God, and in following the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we will never go wrong. And our life will also be a life of fruitfulness, a life of peace and joy. The Church needs men and women of faith. Not only men and women who accept the truth, but men and women who act to transform their entire life into an act of faith. Men and women who are attentive to the will of God, to the creations of God, to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and are willing to follow this inspiration with true faith.