Advent – 4th Sunday Cycle B – 2008
If we are only honest with ourselves – we can recognize times when God comes to us in very direct ways. Allow me to explain.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from Woman’s Choice Services (the group guiding the Project Gabriel Ministries) about trying to find one of our clients who would consent to being interviewed by the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune, it seems, wanted to do a story on how a ministry affected someone’s life, especially spiritually; Project Gabriel was selected. As a “good little regional coordinator” I passed the email on to the eight Parishes that I serve with the advice to call WCS, not me, if they have anyone they think would be a good fit. Then as our hectic schedules have a tendency to do; the event was pushed back to the rarely visited vaults of my memory.
Last week, as I was praying over the readings for today, to prepare this homily, I came to a point of indecision. How could I relate to you what the Gospel was telling me? What can I take away from these readings to better my life and maybe help you to do the same? But try as I might it wasn’t becoming clearer. So, as I have a habit of doing sometimes, I put it to the side – praying that something would point me the right direction.
Well, yesterday, as I was about ready to use a beautiful reflection by St Bernard of Clairvaux for this homily, and feeling a little disappointed that I couldn’t come up with my own; I received a call from one of the Project Gabriel Parishes. The Parish Coordinator told me that one of their clients had been selected for the Tribune article and that it should be in the Christmas Day issue.
It was a very splendid surprise; I can remember back to when we first got this client; it was a study in confusion, originally – the information got lost, a parish said yes then nothing was done and so forth. The end result was that on the way home from work one early October day I was calling three parishes and trying to find help for this mother-to-be who had somehow been dropped through the cracks. She had just been kicked out of where she was living – primarily due to the fact that she wanted to keep her unborn baby, and was now with friends in a place with almost no heat, and was in desperate need of food. So while driving home from work, I contacted the OLOM Project Gabriel coordinator who, as chance would have it, was also driving as well; told her that I had an emergency case in need of help within hours, and asked if she could take care of this extreme case. I then watched as she found the people, the food and a way to have an angel team visit her that night. All of this – in the span of an hour or so! I remember the feeling of witnessing a beautiful symphony at work – people were dropping what they were doing to help this young lady; who by saying yes to God, had been forced to find shelter and was in need.
The client’s name isn’t Mary, but here actions were. She found the strength to go against her family, her boyfriend, and society and say yes to the life within her. She was tested severely but continued to find the courage and strength to say yes, as the Holy Family did in those first few years. By all accounts she is a sweet young lady and is grateful for all we have done. She had every reason to be bitter but was just the opposite. She is an inspiration to us all.
Those friends of hers, the ones who took her in, aren’t inn-keepers but their actions were. They hardly have anything, not even good heat and enough food to feed them selves – but they offered what they had. They took on another burden out of love.
The angel teams aren’t real angels but there actions were. In a matter of minutes many people had changed their Friday evening and weekend plans to rush to the aid of this woman in need, went to be with her, bring her food, take her to the doctor the following week, and befriended her throughout the remainder of her pregnancy and still to this day.
The baby isn’t named Jesus, but the reactions that came about because of this baby radiated Jesus nonetheless. Everybody involved in the case didn’t first count the cost to themselves, they just said yes – they let love reign supreme. Everything that was done to help this child and mother witnessed to God’s plan of what being human is all about; and those of us involved, and that now includes you, have been reminded in a real and powerful way.
That day back in early October wasn’t Christmas but the spirit was. And it took a call from God yesterday to remind me how to really celebrate the birth of Christ.