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Contents: Volume 2 - 4th SUNDAY of ADVENT
Year C December 19th, 2021






1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)





Advent 4 C 2021

I love the Gospel story of the Visitation! Here is Mary, a young girl, rather scared because of unknown but miraculous things happening to her, setting off "to the hill country" to cae for an aging Elizabeth. Elizabeth is with child as well, also a bit miraculous because of her age. Oh, with what joy Elizabeth and the child in her womb greet Mary and the Child in her womb!

How is it that we greet Jesus each day? He is there, every moment of every day. He is within us, He is around us, He is within others as well.

Jesus is still working within our world today. Sometimes we might feel we have to look very closely and carefully to find Him. He is present in people like Mary... you know, those people doing the caring that caring people just do quietly.

As we approach Christmas and the Gift we receive in Jesus that day, let us remember the gift that such caring people give to us each day. We certainly need more joy to be visibly present in our world today. Name these caregivers, contact them, pray for them. The care they give comes in many forms and perhaps goes unnoticed most of the time. Greet them with joy and tell them how joyful their caring makes you feel. Tell them that they remind you of Mary, a loving witness to Jesus present within her, even in times of personal trial.


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Fourth Sunday of Advent December 19 2021

Micah 5:1-4; Responsorial Psalm 80; Letter to the Hebrews 10:5-10; Gospel Acclamation Luke 1:38; Luke 1:39-45

Where in the four gospels do we hear of two women speaking with each other? That is the unusual thing about Luke’s gospel and the gospel for this last Sunday of Advent. He presents women in a more active role in the ministry and life of Jesus than do the other three. There is an understanding of the importance of women in the energy of Luke’s gospel. It is they who nourish and nurture the faith in their children. It is they who give birth to hope in times of great distress. It is they who bear the pain and stand with those who experience the pain that sin brings to even the innocent. They endure, they support, they educate, they encourage, they bind up wounds, they seem more capable of listening. Women bring children into the world. Often that birthing is thought of as a gift to husbands through nine months of gestation and the pain of delivery. Yet in truth, it is women’s gift to humanity. For in the birth of every child -- well no! It is in the becoming one flesh of man and woman that gestation, birthing, and nurturing of a child that the humanity has possibilities for greatness. That is the hope in the life of a newly born child. Possibilities arising from contingencies of creation are the opportunity for enhancement of human existence and for salvation for the ills that nature throws at us and the terror and hatred devised by persons who choose to wed their lives to evil. Womanhood throughout the ages has been often reduced to the plaything of manhood. Womanhood has frequently been held in servitude to the needs of manhood’s health -- mental and physical. In the past century and in this current one, women are coming into their own. They serve in civic leadership, in health care, in education, in industry, and in financial enterprises. But even so, there are those who continue in the old ways and fail to respect the dignity and worth of women’s personhood. Is there a bad seed in the male psyche that insists in dominance over others, especially women? We see that in attacks on the dignity and worth of women in the barroom and the boardroom. We see that also in the deep-seated scourge of racism that expands the attack to persons of color, of alien nation, of language, and often of differing faith tradition. We just cannot seem to get over the corruption resident in our hearts which demands we consider ourselves better than others so that we can feel good about ourselves. Is this the only way the immature and insecure can think themselves with standing, dignity, and worth?

The lesson this final Sunday of preparation for the coming of Jesus is about living out the plan God has for each of us. That is the hope of the coming solemnity of the season of light to the world, the Incarnation of Divinity in the skin of humanity. That is the faith that drives us to see beyond the consumerism, secularism, and caste systems that have despotic control over the moments of living.

The first reading from the Prophet Micah needs a little background to be understood. Micah prophesized in the eighth century before the birth of Jesus. That was a time of great prosperity for the nation of Judah. However, its governing rulers and nobility were devastatingly corrupt. As is typical of times of outstanding prosperity, faith practices and rituals lost their ability to inspire. Those foundations for a just and united communal life became bland. Commitment and vitality necessary to lift up the lives of persons had given away to the idolatry of wealth, power, and personal search for prestige. Micah ran contrary to this pervasive thinking. All was not well despite prosperity being the consistent and dominant arc of the nation. That prosperity was like paint over rotten wood. Micah prophesized about the destruction of the great city. Destruction would, however, be answered by God in God’s way. A great leader who be born to lead the nation back to faith in God. It was that faith that bound to nation together in unity and vitality. But more than that, that leader would unite not only Judah but also all those who were taken into exile to the four corners of the earth. All nations would join in that unity. That leader would bring new light into human existence. That leader would energize all people to get over insults and conflicts that threatened them with violence and war and crushing poverty. That great leader in Micah’s eyes came not from the courts of the rich and famous. That leader would come from an insignificant small town. That small town was the shepherd town of Bethlehem. The reality of that coming was confirmed in the story of the wise men who came to Herod’s court to find out where the Messiah was to be born. The learned the scribes used Micah’s prophecy to direct them to Bethlehem.

For Micah, the glory, success, and prosperity of Judah would be lost because the nation failed to live according to the faith of Moses and his successors. When this new leader appeared, born of woman, the joy and revitalization of the nation would bring even God to rejoice over the people. God’s song would be the song of festival, rejoicing in great harvests, in victories over threatening enemies, and in the reward of hard work of hands and clear commitment of hearts to the presence of God among them.

Faith is the center of this Sunday’s chosen scripture passages. Mary received a message from God that she has been chosen. How unlikely it is that she would have understood the long-term commitment this would entail. She believed because of the focus of her heart. For faith is a matter of the heart, not the reasoning of the head. This teen aged girl must have been excited, must have been wondering, must have needed someone to share this encounter with an unexpected messenger and its message. What could it all mean? How would she explain her pregnancy? How would she avoid the wrath of the Mosaic Law? Would Joseph be sympathetic? Would he consider her an adulteress and dismiss her? Would she be stoned to death according to the law? Who could she trust? She turned to another woman, a cousin who lived in the hill country. The angel gave as proof of his message that this cousin, Elizabeth was also pregnant. How was it possible that a woman too old to have a child was pregnant? That was the proof Mary clung to as evidence of the messenger and the message. The Spirit of God inspired Elizabeth to affirm Mary. And so, it came to past that Mary stayed with Elizabeth until the birth of John. John was the foretold precursor to the Messiah, to the Son of Man. He would be the Baptizer and the herald announcing the Messiah. John made straight the way of the Lord, filling in ravines of addiction, toppling mountains of hatred. It was the beginning of the Gospel. It was the Good News that hearts of just persons longed to hear for thousands of years.

The gospel, the good news! What is so great about the message that we call it for more than two thousand years, the Good News? What caused our faith ancestors faith to shout out the message and call it good news? So many over the past two thousand years have given their lives as witnesses to the truth of the Good News. What is so inspiring as to cause persons to give up their lives to witness to its wonder and influence? When caught up in the details of stories told those who live only with reason lose the truth of those stories. The heart, that which we love, adds a deeper and more energizing understanding to those stories. As long as hearts are closed to the influence of God, the stories are only history. When they are only past events, then the reason can ignore them as having any truth to add to the present. Hearts that are closed deny the presence of God and thus the truth of the present is buried under the flotsam and jetsam of current events. When the heart is opened, then the events and relationships of real time take on a depth of meaning that guides the mind into decisions that bring about salvation from the terror of the present: the meaninglessness of daily existence is overthrown and all details, all relationships take on an avenue to meaning and purpose. And what is written about God after each epoch, each day of creation is true. "And God saw that it was good. And God saw that it was very good." Therein lies the good news. The truth of the four gospels and the message of the apostles in their epistles is quite simple. God loves us. God holds us in the palm of his hand. God is present to us in a myriad of ways. That is a starting point. When we encounter nature and appreciate its complexity and the interdependent relationships of bits of it to other bits, we are led to the creator. We see the fingerprints of God’s handiwork and we are led to "fear of the Lord." I wish we would find another word for that terrible choice of words: "fear!" We are devastated by the wonder of creation, of nature, and ultimately of humanity. That encounter leads us to God who promised us in Old and New Testaments that God would always be with us. No matter the devastation, no matter the struggle, no matter the joy of living and the wonder of its birth and its death; God is there through it all. When we approach nature, time, living beings, and humanity with appreciation and awe we receive what we ask for in the antiphon for the responsorial psalm this Sunday. "Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved." The announcement to Mary, her visitation to Cousin Elizabeth, and the dialogue between Mary and Elizabeth are for them indeed seeing the face of God.

When we see the face of God, we are indeed saved from the way of the world. We find ourselves in the company of saints and sinners and detect God’s fingerprints. When we see the movements and details of our life’s stories under the light of faith then we begin to see why the four stories are indeed Good News.

Why did God choose Bethlehem as the place of the birth of Jesus, destined to become the Christ? Why does God always seem to reach out to the poor to receive his message? Bethlehem? The household of a laboring carpenter? A teen-ager not yet wise in the ways of the world? The poor have no resources. The poor have little material clutter to distract them from their need for God. The poor can only live in the hope of a better tomorrow. The poor of necessity must care for their fellow poor if they are to be saved from death by temperature, by dehydration, by starvation. Those poor who share survive and often thrive. Those poor who resort to violence fall away. In this last week of preparation for the coming of the Lord, let us become poor in our spirits and turn to God. Let us seek God’s face and come to understand the truth of our lives. Let us come to understand how necessary it is for us to look to the welfare of our cousins -- our neighbors. Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Carol & Dennis Keller






Luke today brings us into the world of women. One is Elizabeth, an older woman, who through the power of God is carrying a child, who will be known as ‘John the Baptist.’ The second woman is Mary, a teenager and the cousin of the older woman. She too, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is carrying a child, who will be called ‘Jesus,’ a name which means ‘God saves.’ Luke stresses that although the two women see themselves as little, lowly and humble, in the mind and plan of God they are great and important. So, we follow the details of their meeting with each other with much interest and listen carefully to their conversation.

That Luke names the older woman ‘Elizabeth’ is important, since many women in the bible are not named at all. They are referred to simply as ‘mother,’ ‘daughter,’ ‘wife’ or ‘woman.’ They are identified, in fact, only through being linked to some man, who is named. For example, we never learn the name of Peter’s mother-in-law, whose fever Jesus cured. She is just ‘Peter’s mother-in-law.’ In the bible, someone’s name often tells us something important about the person. Elizabeth’s name means ‘God is my fullness, my completion.’ In the light of Luke’s story, how apt is that!

The God in whom both Elizabeth and Mary delight, the God who has made each of them pregnant in a miraculous manner, is the God who delivers oppressed people from their pain and humiliation. This is the God who brought the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt, and the exiles home from Babylon. This is the God whom Elizabeth thanks for removing the shame of being infertile (1:25). This is the God whom Mary praises in her Magnificat for having ‘looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant’ (1:48)

We find the two cousins meeting in Elizabeth’s house in the little village of Ain Karin in the hills of Judaea. Pregnant women say they find comfort in being with one another, encouraging and supporting one another, sharing hopes and fears, and gaining practical information about changes in their bodies. Elizabeth and Mary share their excitement about the babies they are carrying, but also about the plans and presence of God to them and their babies. They share their deep faith and trust in what God is doing.

At the very moment that Mary comes through the door and starts to greet her cousin, Elizabeth becomes aware of the presence of God. Her child John leaps inside her womb. She remembers how the young King David danced in the presence of God before the Ark of the Covenant. ‘Filled with the Holy Spirit’ (1:41), she praises God and Mary’s cooperation with God. In words that have passed into our ‘Hail Mary’ prayer, she says to her: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb’ (1:42) She recognizes that Mary has kept on believing that God would keep his promises. Finally, she calls Mary’s visit a special blessing to herself when she exclaims: ‘Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?’ (Lk 1:43)

While Luke makes clear that Elizabeth was not young, he does not imply that she was frail, feeble, doddery, demented, or foolish. She is typical of the kind of senior women in our parishes, towns, and suburbs, who are the backbone of our communities. They serve in the sanctuary and work in the parish offices. They visit the sick. They teach and train the young. They pass on their wisdom to the next generation, as Elizabeth does in Luke’s story.

Grandmothers and grandmother figures care for children when their parents are at work or otherwise absent. They listen with compassion to the stories of the needy, the humiliated, the hurt, and the wounded. While they won’t put up with any lies, hypocrisy, guff or baloney, they are often the only ones who will greet us with a smile and take time to listen to our troubles. From their own rich life experiences, they offer perspective and balance. Thanks to their sense of humor, they teach us not to take things too seriously, ourselves included. And isn’t that a great gift from God?

The older women in our communities teach us not to be morbid or preoccupied with death, as they live in the present but with trust in the future. So often there is a special joy about them, the joy that comes from their trust in God, a joy that is infectious and energizing. We see that joy in the enthusiasm of the elderly Elizabeth in welcoming Mary to her home.

We can imagine how encouraging that was for Mary, whose pregnancy was surely frightening and confusing for a very young single girl. Elizabeth reminds us of all those older women who mentor and support new mothers, including unmarried ones, who are there for abused women and their children, who befriend girls addicted to alcohol and drugs, who reach out to run away and homeless children, and who help young women find jobs, and learn new skills in the office and the home. Elizabeth reminds us too of all those older women, who have kept on praying all their lives, and who help younger ones interpret the Word and will of God. They are truly faith-friends to the rest of the parish.

To sum up! In the story of the visit of Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth too stands out as ‘blessed among women,’ for the role model and inspiration she is for the senior women of our communities. They are at home with both God and us. They sustain us by their presence, their prayers, their sensitivity, their generosity, their wisdom, and their love. We honor them this Christmas, and we pray that in the coming New Year they, like Mary and Elizabeth, will enjoy God’s special favor for being the special people they are.

"Brian Gleeson CP" <>









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