Sharing and celebrating faith
On this the last Sunday before Christmas, our Gospel reading prepares us to witness Christ’s birth by showing us how Jesus was recognized as Israel’s long-awaited Messiah even before his birth. The Gospel turns our attention from the ministry of John the Baptist to the events that preceded John the Baptist’s birth. The story of John the Baptist and his parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, are reported only in Luke’s Gospel. Luke pairs the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus, establishing John’s early connection to the Messiah.
One of Mary’s first recorded journeys was after the announcement to her that she was to be the mother of God. It was a journey of service, a visit to her cousin who needed help. When dealing with such challenges as pregnancy, bereavement, redundancy, a son in prison or a daughter on drugs – we want to talk and we want support. Mary and Elizabeth had something else to share – their faith. The prayers they said have been said ever since. The stage was small but the audience has been millions ever since. They were not shy about their faith in their God.
In a time like ours we need to externalise our faith – to go to Church, send a card with a Christmas greeting, not just a season’s wish – not to parade, but to make present our faith. The meaning this week is – Jesus is born, and we celebrate that together, with thanks, music, socialising, prayer and Mass. We need to find God again, and let ourselves be open to him in the deepest areas of life, just like the husbands of both these women, Joseph and Zechariah, as well as their wives, were open to God. Nothing need keep us from God or from the crib at Christmas. All are welcome. The real meaning of Christmas is to meet with God and to help our neighbour.