Sunday, December 20, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

In the Gospel on this last Sunday of Advent, we are presented with two pregnant women — cousins Mary and Elizabeth.

Elizabeth, miraculously pregnant with John the Baptist converses with Mary, mysteriously pregnant with Jesus.

The first reading from Micah provides us with a prophetic utterance that Bethlehem, "too small to be among the clans of Judah," is recognized as the place from which will come "the ruler of old, whose origin is from ancient times."

The Gospel also provides a prophetic utterance from Elizabeth as she recognizes her cousin's pregnancy as much more than just a pregnancy.

Filled with the Spirit she cries out: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"

Two prophetic utterances — both are announcing the coming of the Lord; there is recognition of the holy, of the presence of God, of fulfillment, of God’s work being done in ways unimaginable.

This last week of Advent seeks to open our eyes to the mystery of Incarnation unfolding in time. We, as the followers of Jesus Christ, are welcomed into a reflection of the hope and dream of salvation.

The past dream remembered and proclaimed at Christmas is the dream realized and celebrated by us.

There is also trust and blessing revealed in the words of Elizabeth to Mary. Elizabeth doesn't just reflect upon her personal reaction or response to Mary – although she does that, too. Rather, Elizabeth proclaims: "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."

What will this Christmas bring to each of us?

We will again remember the birth of Jesus. We will reflect upon and celebrate Incarnation. We will rejoice with the angels that the messiah has been born and hear the Good news proclaimed in their song.

But what about Elizabeth's final words. Will they be spoken to us also? Will we appreciate that, in baptism, we have been blessed, called, anointed, chosen, loved, graced, saved and sent?

Will we hear words of fulfillment to us? Will we feel blessed and be grateful for it?

Hopefully, each of us will take Elizabeth's words personally and truly hear them addressed to us: "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.

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