In the United States, professional football games become the weekend liturgies for many folks. Near the end of each half, the referees blow their whistles and take a time-out warning each team that there are only two minutes left before the end of the half. Two minutes of playing time can actually take up to fifteen minutes to play out. Those spaces are filled with advertisements and impatience.
This Fourth week of Advent is a “two-day warning”. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve having its own liturgy of Vigil and Midnight Mass. These two days can be filled also with commercials and much impatience as well. Football enthusiasts might spend their two-minute warnings in prayer of petition or gratitude. We Adventers have just a little more time for emptiness and listeningness. We take this valuable time-out so that the Christmas will not be as empty as a stadium, gameless, crowdless and meaningless.
The Gospel is an intimate encounter between two listening women of faith. Both have trusted in the secrecy of pregnancy. They both are moved to share their secrets.
Mary has been greeted by an angel and trusts what she hears in her soul. Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting and trusts what she hears and feels within her body. Elizabeth greets Mary with a tender benediction: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Mary is pictured as having received well a tremendous gift and promise. The first thing she is moved to do is to check it out with her cousin whom she has heard is pregnant too. Reception implies grateful distribution. So much preparation for the great Gift of God’s impregnating the womb of this world. All is set now, only the waiting and watching and wanting.
God has come to us according to what makes sense to our minds, unless they are filled like the “Inn” with logic and arrogance. Through our senses God has come to visit and stay. It does remain more than we can handle in our one day of life. Yet God continues to give the Gift . He came that we might have life and be freed to give it, and Him, away in the life-long, life-giving visits we make in the lives of others. Christmas is for children, yes, but for those of us who seek intimacy in life, Christmas grows us up.