posted on December 23, 2012 21:02
Homily: Deacon Terry Ellerman
Blessed Sacrament Parish
December 23, 2012 - 4th Sunday of Advent
10 AM Service
This morning, we celebrate the fourth Sunday in Advent. Christmas is almost here. It will be here in two days. Are we ready to receive the greatest gift that anyone could receive?
There was a philosopher by the name of Kierkegaard who asked the question, “Why is it that God sent Jesus into the world as he did to be born in a stable, to be laid in a manger?” And Kierkegaard wrote a parable. This parable was his explanation to help us understand what really happened.
There was a king who was very powerful but also very lonely. He was lonely because he didn't have a wife and the castle was bare. He could have had an arranged marriage but he didn't want that because he wanted the person to love him and it would be mutual.
So he went about the kingdom looking for a bride. In one of the distant areas he found a girl who was the most beautiful person he had ever seen. But the problem was that he wondered, “How do I do this?”
So he went to one of his advisors and his advisor said, “Go in there. Tell her you are the king and you want to marry her.”
He said, “I can't do that because how would I know if she loved me.”
So another advisor said, “Go in and tell them you are the king and give her presents and then ask her to be your bride.”
And he said, “I can't do that because if I did, I would always wonder, 'Is it me? Or is it the wealth?' ”
Another advisor said, “Go there and dress like a peasant and pretend you are a peasant and after you get to know her and that works out - then tell her gradually that you are the king.”
And he said, “I can't do that. That means I would have a marriage based on deceit. I can't do that.”
Finally, he came up with his own solution: He would give up and renounce the throne and would go back into that village and actually become a peasant - just like her. And that's what he did. He became a peasant, went through all the suffering that everyone else did in the village, got to know her, and finally married her and moved to another country where no one would have any idea of who he was. They then lived the rest of their lives happily ever after.
At the end of his life, he got very sick and his bride took very, very good care of him. Matter of fact, at the funeral someone commented that he really married a queen.
The story is meant to tell us: Do we know what that gift is when we celebrate Christmas - that Jesus truly became one of us. He didn't have to, but he did. He became one of us, he was born in a stable, he was born into a family that was poor. He did all that because he so loved us that he wanted us to have the possibility of loving him.
In our Gospel we see the continuation of the story of salvation with Mary.
Mary comes to greet Elizabeth - but before we get into this we need to know a little history before we can understand.
We go back to the book of Exodus and we see Moses. Moses at one point has the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant has in it the Ten Commandments, the staff, and some manna from their journey into the Promised Land. And in this Ark of the Covenant is where God resided. Then the Ark of the Covenant had other pieces added onto it to become a Tabernacle. It had two long poles added and four people carried it wherever they went.
It was really important to them because it was God present with them. When they went into battle they carried the Ark of the Covenant with them because they knew then that God was physically with them to help them. As a matter of fact, at some point David, the greatest of all kings, had the Ark of the Covenant moved into Jerusalem and into the temple. And as they moved it into the temple the Israelites danced around and were joyous and David said, “How am I so blessed that my Lord would come to me?”
We see the same thing today in our Gospel reading. Mary is now the new Ark of the Covenant. It is within Mary's body that she has Jesus. And when she went to greet Elizabeth, who danced but John the Baptist who leaped in the womb of Elizabeth.
Mary is a perfect model for us to know how to live our life to make Christ truly present in us. But there is an extension to this - because for each and every one of us - our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of our baptism we have received Christ into our life. Therefore, Christ is within us. That's why it is important that we take care of our body and what we do with it, how we act, and how we respond because it is Christ in us.
During the season, actually all year long, but during this season I want you to think for a minute about events you have observed during the last two weeks. Where have you seen people being Christ to each other? Where have you seen yourself being Christ to other people?
A couple weeks ago the story was told that there was a young girl in the Gathering Area who took an ornament off the tree. She said to her Mom, “Can we get this?” And her Mom said, “I don't think we can, I already have one and I think your Dad picked one up also.” The little girl said, “If you put one of my gifts back - can we get this gift?
That is Christ in us making itself manifest to the world. So in these two days as we prepare for the birth of Christ, let us not forget the gift is really Christ coming into the world to be one of us so that he could die for us so that we some day could be with him.
It is truly a gift of love that he gives to us, and a gift of love that we are meant to give to one another.
Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.