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Pastor's Column

Mary Sets Out in Haste

Pastor’s Column

4th Sunday of Advent

December 19, 2021

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,

where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

Luke 1: 39-45

Frans Francken the Younger, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

At this time of year, many of us are often in a rush to get everything done before Christmas. Isn’t it interesting, then, that in this Sunday’s gospel this is the only scripture where we find Mary also in a hurry! Mary has just received the good news that she is going to be the mother of our Savior, and that her elderly cousin, probably three generations older than her, is also expecting. Mary hastens to her cousin’s home – she can’t wait to share her own good news and to help her cousin with her pregnancy. She literally rushes to Elizabeth’s home.

Mary also knows when not to rush, for we often find her pondering the events of her life and the mysteries of God, taking her time with them, praying and pondering over it all. When shepherds came to adore the newborn king on Christmas morning, Mary must have been overwhelmed with emotion. How could God have revealed himself first to these shepherds? How could the Savior of the World be born in a cave? Mary pondered these things deeply (Luke 2:19). Again, when Jesus was lost in the temple for three days, Mary did not understand the words of her son right away: she needed to ponder this event in her heart (Luke 2:51).

In our own lives, too, there is a time to rush and a time to be still. When someone is in need of our service, when we are called upon to do an act of love for a person in need, we can imitate Mary, who rushed to be present and show love to her cousin. If I have decided to follow Christ more closely in my life, this is a time to make haste and put into practice those things I have decided to do for Christ, and not put them off, like making a good confession or deciding to pray every day.

Perhaps you may have been moved to pick up a giving-tree ornament or donate food or money to the needy gypsy kids in Slovakia, or contribute to St. Vincent de Paul or Saint Ed’s or do some other work of charity this month. We make haste to serve others and in so doing bring incredible blessings on ourselves.

Life also offers us moments to be still, to ponder, to pray, and (hopefully!) to be silent, at least for a moment. When I come to Mass (unless I have small children!), God is calling me to at least try to drop my cares and worries off in the vestibule, and spend an hour focusing on him. Our worries can be picked up again afterward, if we still want them! When I pray, can I make some time to ponder the Word of God? What might God be saying to me through the scriptures or the events of my life? Like Mary, we too have to build some time into our lives to ponder and pray. Like Mary, then, we make haste to love and take time to ponder and pray.

Father Gary


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