Homily 4th Sunday of Advent

Sister Chris Kean | December 23, 2018

To what will you say yes?

About 35 years ago our Sister Molly’s sister Susie was teaching her young daughter, Jill, the Hail Mary. When she got to the part which says, “Holy Mary mother of God.” Susie explained to Jill that this meant that the angel was saying that God had chosen Mary to be the mother of Jesus, who was going to be God’s son on earth. At that point the little girl burst into tears and said, “I wanted to be Jesus’ mother, why didn’t God pick me?”

In 1 Samuel 2: 1 - 10 we hear Hannah’s song. Hannah gives thanks for all the things which God has done in her life. She is especially grateful that God has granted her request for a son who she names Samuel. Hannah eventually takes Samuel back to the priest Eli and gives him up to Eli,so that he will live in service to the priest and to God forever. This Song of Hannah closely resembles Mary’s Magnificat. Both women are so happy for God’s gifts to them and for their ability to give back to God for all that he has asked of them.

We also know that in Luke 1: 34 - 45 we hear the visitation story. Again we have two women Mary and Elizabeth who have said their yes to God. Both of them perhaps assuming that their children are going to live lives in service to God, but neither of them knowing to what extent that yes was going to take them or their children! Father Duane in some comments last week even alluded to his thought that Mary might have even been a little bit intrigued by saying yes. Here she is this young woman who is engaged and this angel appears and says, “God wants you to bear his son!” Don’t you think she might think that this is rather strange, but I’ll bet, she may think, that he will take care of the details so that I can carry this out.

In fact, in several instances during our Advent season we heard people saying yes to God, sometimes in spite of thinking better of it. Ruth, David, and Solomon all were asked by their God to do something that would carry on the lineage of the Savior. Did they know that this was what their answer was to bring? I don’t think so, in fact I know they didn’t because God did not tell them this. Ruth really had no instruction from God. She was just trying to be faithful to Naomi and then obedient to her instructions. David and Solomon on the other hand both had specific, detailed instructions from God about what they were to do and they followed them.

So, what does all of this have to say to us today? It seems like, especially lately, I have heard many of us individually and perhaps even communally trying on a new word ... “no.” It is true that all of the reasons we give for saying “no” to things are legitimate. We are tired, we are busy with what we are doing, I don’t have any more energy, the community is getting smaller, we are getting older. Or is it more like, I am afraid to try something new? Sisters, where are our dreams this Christmas? Is there still a “YES” left in us? Is there a “yes” to whatever the Babe may be asking of us this year? A “yes” that doesn’t have to have every answer mapped out?

For me a “yes” is something that can keep a person moving forward. Even little Jill who really didn’t know what she was so upset about all those years ago, knew that she had missed out on a life altering mission. Back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s there was a Swedish statesman who at 47 became the second Secretary General of the United Nations. Among other other things he was a prolific writer and poet. His name was Dag Hammarskjold and he has one quote that I particularly like. “For all that has been, Thank You. For all that is to be, Yes!

It seems to me that whether we are Hannah, Elizabeth or Mary or any of the rest of those of us who will unwrap our ears to God’s message this year,we need to say “thank you for choosing me” and then “YES”!