Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent: Charity, an Advent Virtue

Not soon after Mary heard she was to be the mother of the Son of God what did she do?  She traveled in haste to her cousin Elizabeth.  Mary lived in Nazareth, which was about 50 miles north of Jerusalem.  Elizabeth lived in “a city of Judah” “in the country,” (Lk 1:39).   This was most probably about 5-10 miles west of Jerusalem.  That means a young teenage girl, newly pregnant, traveled around 60 miles to visit her aging and pregnant cousin.  That’s a great distance, and the terrain wasn’t flat either.  It was hilly and maybe even slightly mountainous.  Mary began her waiting for Jesus, then, in a selfless manner.  Getting up and traveling rough terrain to offer assistance to her cousin.  She didn’t say to herself, “Self, I’ll wait till she has the baby.  That’s just way too far.”  Nor did she neglect her cousin after hearing such extraordinary news.  Such a pregnancy as Elizabeth’s would probably be a dangerous pregnancy, one that needed additional help and support.  Hence, Mary traveled in love and selflessness to the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth.

As we await the coming of our Savoir, God gives us opportunities to take care of Elizabeths.  He gives us opportunities to travel great distances, sometimes physical, as in Mary's case.  Other times we gives us the opportunity to travel a great distance relationally and minister to someone whom we despise or with whom we are angry .  Once we receive Christ, we don’t just sit at home with Him.  We go out; we proclaim His greatness.  I emphasize "just" because he calls us to sit with Him in prayer each day, but the fruit of prayer is charity, hence going out.  

He dwells within the womb of our hearts.  Our bellies don’t show the trimesters; our actions do.  One can see that Christ was about to hit full term in many of the lives of the saints. St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Vincent de Paul, are just a few.  Our hearts must dilate and grow for Christ to be born in them.  This is Advent, and indeed, each day of our lives provides opportunity for the dilation of the heart.

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