“With Child”

As foretold by the Prophet Isaiah [7:1014], the “virgin shall conceive and bear a son,” . . . as a sign that God is present and attentive.  The Gospel [Matthew 1:18-24] proclaims the news — carried by an angel — to Joseph that it was by the Holy Spirit that Mary had conceived a child — and will bear a Son, Jesus, our savior — and God present among us.

Over the past days we have celebrated the Feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe.  We have reflected upon Mary, favored by God, and the means by which God has come into our world and our lives.  Mary, a willing servant, an instrument of God — allowed herself to be “used” for good, the greatest good.

And, while we in faith reiterate our faith in God and our admiration for Mary as a faithful servant — let us also hear the message of the angel spoken to each of us — each of us is “with child” — each and everyone of us is being called to bear fruit, and to bring new life into the world.

The days of 2016 are fewer and fewer — and while there no doubt will be surprises and the need for us to act kindly and lovingly — the opportunities to initiate good and to deliberately set a life giving course are drawing to an end for this year.

But soon, a new year will begin — and within each of us are possibilities to show that God is with us — there is a call from within to save myself and those around me from sin — the diminishment of life.

It matters not whether one is 27, 47, or 67 — it matters not whether is male or female — it matters not whether one is married or not —- each of us is capable of being good and doing good.  We have the chance to make the world around us a better place.

We all know that holidays like Christmas are quite different when a child is present.  We have seen over and over that when a couple welcome a child into their home — when grandparents care for a child and guests come over — conversation and discussion shift to the child in the midst of everyone.  We are in awe of the beauty of a child — and the miracle unfolding before us.

God is not finished with me yet ….. and I am quite sure, not finished with you, either.  There is a story to be told, a work to be done, an effort to be exerted.  There is a child within me and within you —- there is new life yet to be born.

As I moved from parish ministry to community ministry — especially with the students in charter schools, some called it my “encore career” — I see it now as “new Life” bursting forth.

The angel said to Joseph, “do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home … for she will bear a son.”  So, too does God say to me — do not be afraid to take _________into your home — for this is what I see is to happen.

It might be quite clear to me — to you — what this new task, this new challenge is.  Perhaps — it is not so clear or completely unknown.

This past week, the story of a Santa Claus in Knoxville, TN has gone viral on social media.  This Santa received a call from a nurse in a hospital where a young child was soon to die.  The child wanted to see Santa Clause.  The nurse called — Santa came with a toy.  Santa told the young boy, that he was Santa’s # 1 elf.  The boy was barely able to hold the toy — smiled — and died in the arms of Santa.

Santa Claus could have found many reasons not to go — maybe the child would be afraid.  Maybe Santa would not know what to say.  Maybe it would make everyone sad.  But he went — and everyone was changed — the boy, Santa, and those who watched from the hallway. New Life and a new light shined in a place of darkness.  The goodness within this Santa came forth in visible, tangible form.

Within us all is new life — let us not be afraid of what is asking of us.  Let us not be afraid to take on what we do not understand.  The sign that God is with us still is that good people, good ol’ ordinary men and women — do the work of God — they bear Jesus into the world over and over and over again.

hjm

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