Advent season invites us to prepare ourselves to have a personal and intimate experience of Jesus who is going to be born in our hearts. At the Annunciation, God sent the angel Gabriel to a town called Nazareth to a virgin called Mary to ask for her holy womb for the Son of God to be born. The same God sends his holy ministers during the advent season to ask for our hearts for the same Jesus to be born. How Mother Mary responded to the invitation of the Lord is the same way that every Christian is called to respond.
As soon as Mary heard from the angel, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you will name him Jesus,” Mary was perplexed on account of two things. It is obvious in the Scripture that Mary said, – “How can this be, since I am a virgin.” It implies two things. One is concerning her own body that she was a virgin. Another one is concerning her own Jewish society which stones to death anyone who is found conceived before marriage. But she put all her hope in God and courageously overcame those obstacles and said “Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word.”
Dear brothers and sisters, whenever we want or desire to encounter and experience the Lord, two things that always comes on our way as hurdles are the same that May also faced, namely, our own bodies and the society in which we live in. When Zacchaeus desperately wanted to meet and experience Lord Jesus, he was also faced with the same situation. As he was short in stature, his body came as a stumbling block to see Jesus. Secondly, he could not have the sight of Jesus on account of the crowd which refers to his own society. He overcame them by climbing a sycamore tree and could see Jesus and have the experience of him.
As we prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas to experience Jesus in our hearts, our own bodies and our own society can come as hurdles. Our body which includes the senses of seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, speaking, touching and thinking can become hurdles. Our temptation to sin takes concrete forms through them by seeing the ugly things through our eyes, poking our nose in unnecessary matters, gluttony through our tongues, gossiping, criticizing, and judging through our mouths and ears, and negative thinking through our minds. Let us overcome these hurdle of our bodies by directing all our senses to the Lord as we prepare ourselves to experience him. Secondly, let us be aware of the various unholy things that our society teaches us through mass media like social networking sites and contradicts the values of the Kingdom of God. Let us turn away from them and fight against the normalization of deviant behaviours and dehumanizing forces in our own lives as well as in the society in which we live in. Then it is possible for us to climb a sycamore tree like Zacchaeus to see Jesus and to say “YES” to the Lord like Mother Mary. If we overcome these hurdles, then our Lord Jesus can be born in our hearts and we experience his joy and peace in us, in our families, and in our world.
Fr Martin SJ