I recently heard of a Sunday School story. It seems that the nun who was teaching Sunday School was very rigid in her teaching. Discussions in her class never deviated from teaching about God and the Catholic faith. One Sunday, while she was teaching about God’s creation, she asked the class, “What is brown and furry, eats nuts and lives in trees?” Little Johnny raised his hand and answered, “Well teacher, it sounds like a squirrel, but, I suppose the answer is Jesus.”

Today’s Gospel reading is much the same. What appears on the surface as a story about Mary, is actually a story about Jesus. You see, in this story, Mary teaches us how we should be preparing for Jesus as we celebrate this last Sunday in Advent. 

Since the beginning of Advent, most of us have probably attended or hosted a Christmas party, played and sung Christmas songs, watched our favorite Christmas movies, decorated our house with lights, and put up a Christmas tree. The problem is that many of us get so wrapped up in doing these things that it takes away the most important part of celebrating Christmas…making room for Jesus to come into our lives. That’s really the end goal for everything that we do during the Christmas season. We try to find joy through celebrations, gifts, decorations, and music, only to find our energy is drained, our spirit is lukewarm, and the only joy that we have is looking forward to the day when Christmas is finally over.

In today’s Gospel, Mary brings no material gift when she visits Elizabeth, yet, Elizabeth is overcome with Joy at their greeting. What is the source of this Joy? Mary offers Elizabeth the greatest gift that one can receive, the living presence of Jesus into one’s life. This is Mary’s lesson for all of us today.

With December 25th just around the corner, many of us are still finding ways to prepare for Christmas. We’ve been looking for the spirit of Christmas in all the wrong places because the spirit of Christmas is rooted in Jesus. And it is only after we bring Jesus into our own lives that we can bring the presence of Christ to others. So, if you’re still sending out Christmas cards, remember that Christmas joy is not expressed in the card itself, but rather, through the words that you write in the card. When you’re inviting people to a party, remember to invite people back into your lives who have hurt you…people that you need to forgive. And, most importantly, if you’re still finalizing your display of lights, make sure that the light of Christ shines through you for all to see this Christmas season.

 

Deacon Bob Laquerre