This week the reflections and prayers centre around three integrated themes. Blessings, shepherds, and Jesus. So what is the underlying idea that links blessings, shepherds and the person of Jesus? I think it may well be one of the 28 words that Bishop Paride Taban shared with us on the second day of Advent. For me it is humility.
In our short reading today we are reminded of the humility of Mary. She was prepared to be humiliated in the service of God even if it cost her, her reputation. Yet when she arrives at her cousin’s home, no doubt weary and afraid, and awaiting to be further humiliated and scolded, she is exonerated by the welcome and acceptance of Elizabeth.
Is it not true that often when we find ourselves at our lowest point God uses the most unexpected of people to be the encouragement we needed just at that moment of despair and despondency? Our readings this week will remind us that God will not allow those who have believed his promises to be defeated without knowing that even in a defeat there is the seeds of victory. Perhaps there is a practical lesson to be learned here. When we feel afraid and worried about the future, visiting a friend or a family member might be where we find the blessing of God touching our lives. What would happen if the Christmas visiting ritual became a real unexpected blessing?
Give me the courage to make journeys
Of healing and reconciliation this Christmas Season
Help me to trust your promptings
To visit with friends
To go to the family gatherings
To feel the joy of your Spirit
Turning my heart,
Changing my mood
Transforming a conversation
Seeing people in a new light
Give me the strength to travel expectantly
To look for new beginnings
To expect blessings
To listen with compassion in order to understand
Give me humility to say I was wrong
The grace to forgive those who have wronged me
And the wisdom to know when to be silent
Give me the courage to make journeys of healing this Christmas
45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be[a] a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’