Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
4th Sunday of Advent | December 20/21, 2014
This homily also serves as the reflection for Day 7 of Simbang Gabi in the devotional, “Waiting for C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S.”
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.
I still vividly remember the 1st real yes that I made as an Oblate.
It occurred in the conference room at Salesianum. The space had been transformed into a chapel that was filled with my family, friends and Oblate brothers. I remember kneeling before my provincial, holding a lit candle and vowing for one year poverty, chastity and obedience according to the Constitutions of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. I remember signing my name in the vows book, filled with the names of those men who had been called to this life before me. I remember accepting the cross that served as an outward sign of my inward commitment.
Everything seemed so right. I didn’t have any questions. I didn’t have any doubts.
I was so confident that I was making the right choice.
I thought I knew what I was getting into.
It is only in hindsight that I realize that I had no idea.
I had no idea that this life would involve two AM phone calls to parents over suicidal students or with friends facing a crisis in their marriage.
I never thought I would watch the final breaths of a stranger in a hospital bed or bury a young mother after she lost her fight to cancer.
I never imagined how difficult some days would be . . . How I would feel inadequate or overwhelmed. I never knew how often I would fail. I never knew how often I would be hurt by those I ministered to and with.
I had no clue how hard it would be to say goodbye when I was asked to move to another ministry. I didn’t realize how lonely some nights would seem.
I truly had no idea.
And yet, I have come to believe that it is this unknowing that is part of the leap of faith that comes with any yes we make.
In our Gospel today, we hear Mary proclaim her famous yes. But it was a yes in which she too had no idea how the story would unfold.
How it would involve the shame and danger of being pregnant without being married.
How it would involve fleeing to Egypt, facing all of the difficulties of making a home in a foreign land.
How it would involve the fear of losing her 12 year old son in Jerusalem.
How it would involve the frustration of trying to understand Jesus’ mission and where she fit in his life and in his plans.
How it would involve the agony of watching her son die on a cross. How the initial yes that she had proclaimed no longer seemed possible. How all that she had hoped and dreamed for seemed to disappear on Calvary.
And yet, she never went back on her yes.
My friends, our lives are filled with these moments in which we too must say yes . . .
When we accept the job offer
When we begin at a new school.
When we start a friendship
When we say I do to our future spouse
When we sign the adoption papers
When we invite mom to live with us.
When we choose to make our faith our own.
And like Mary, we do not know how the story will unfold.
There will be many moments in which we too may question these yeses that we make.
When days are long and difficult. When joy is hard to find.
When we feel stressed, overwhelmed. When we fail or get hurt.
When we genuinely have no idea how to fix what is broken.
When all we have seems to be turning to ashes.
It is in those moments when we must look to Mary to guide us through.
Reminding us to stay in touch with the one who calls us. The God who is with us. The one we wait for this Advent season. The one who is faithful. The one whose yes to us has never faltered, has never changed. The one who loves us, whether our lives our proclaiming our yes, or no or proclaiming I have no idea.
Reminding us that we do not walk our path alone. That our yes is spoken into a world full of sisters and brothers who will help us see our yes through to its fulfillment. Who will help us rebuild. Who will give us perspective. Who will provide the comforting shoulder, the gentle word, the warm embrace.
Our Advent journey is almost over my friends. But our journeys of faith continue onward.
Be Not Afraid. Let it be done unto us according to God’s will. May God be Praised