Posted by: St. Florence Catholic Church | December 18, 2021

Fr. Oscar Hernandez Homily for Dec. 18/19, 2021 4th Sunday of Advent

In our gospel today, Saint Elizabeth cried in a loud voice when Virgin Mary visited her: “For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy,” Mary shares her life by giving joy to her cousin Elizabeth and for Elizabeth, this is one of the greatest gift that she received throughout her life, to be greeted by the mother of the Lord.  The joy continues as Elizabeth sees, touches, tastes, and hears the things Mary has done. Jesus too begins his life by giving joy. Even before He is born, Jesus’ presence brings joy to the people.

The reason why mothers have a very glorious dignity is because Jesus had deemed it worthy to be born, formed, and loved by a mother. All mothers are special before God. But His mother, despite her privileged calling of being the mother of Jesus, Mary did not belong to the Nazareth Women’s Club. For thirty years she did what every mother did: she cooked, cleaned the house, and washed the clothes, worked in the garden, and carried water and firewood.

From all aspects she was an ordinary woman and yet she is honored as the Queen of heaven and earth. She is conceived without sin and the perfect woman. Why? Because in the eyes of God, the type of the work or position we occupy has no special value. One kind of job is just as good as another. What really matters in the eyes of God is why we do the work. Mary did it for only one thing – to be of service to her Son Jesus Christ. 

Though her work was ordinary, she did it in an extraordinary way. She did it in a humble way. Not only was last Sunday the Sunday of joy, or Laudate.  Try to be happy all the time because a Christian is a joyful person. Joy is an essential mark of Christianity and a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. If we are not joyful, then, we are not truly good Christians. We may be even committing sins of lack of faith and confidence in God and also it discourages others.

This joy must be shared. If it is shared, it becomes a double joy. But what is the way to become a joyful person? How can I be joyful when I have a headache or when I have just received bad news or insulted or hurt? Or when there are problems in the family, in the marriage. Is it a joy when we always smile and attend parties, drinking sessions, gatherings, etc.? This is just a shallow joy because it would stay for a while and disappear later.

To make our joy authentic, it must be something deeper than those types of joy we encounter every day. For me, real joy can be found only in the very Lord’s presence in our midst, His presence in creation, in the sacraments and in other people. His presence can bring peace where there is anxiety, sharing where there is selfishness and hope where there is despair. In other words, it’s grace to give joy to others just like what Mother Mary did to Saint Elizabeth. Indeed, there is real joy during Christmas time because the Lord has come. He is Emmanuel – God is with us, and everything is new.

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