December 23, 2018

Advent 4

Micah 5:2-5a, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)

John Ibanez, Deacon Postulant

   In the segments of Luke's Gospel that appears immediately before today's Gospel Readings  the Angel appears to Mary and announces to her that she will “conceive and bear a son,....whom she will name Jesus…He will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.”  Mary, the perfect role model of discipleship obediently responds “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done  to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).  Given the phenomenal nature of what the Angel has announced to Mary, it would not be too far fetched, for Mary to have some doubts, not about God's word, but about herself.  Did this simple young girl rightly understand what the Angel said to her?

     So, in today's Gospel reading, Mary comes to her cousin, not only to share her story,, but perhaps to obtain some confirmation from the the cousin who the Angel said is also with child . At their very greeting the child in Elizabeth's womb  “leaped for joy.". And filled with the Spirit of God, Elizabeth acknowledges Mary as “Holy Mary, mother of God" ,(Theotokos).  The emotion produced by that confirmation is so compelling that Mary  breaks into song, “My Soul Magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior….”.

      We are told by scripture scholars that this phrase, to magnify, in Greek means  “to shout as though one is using a megaphone, literally a "big" or "mega" voice, an outdoor voice.  Mary's Magnificat, pierces the veil of the ordinary and opens a window by which to perceive afresh the extraordinary and unexpected goodness of God. In doing so, Mary, through her song, promises that the Holy One of Israel may also encounter us amid the ordinary, mundane, and even difficult activities of daily life.

       The raindrop sliding on a window pane may unveil the Holiness of God to such profound level that it causes the soul of the observer to Magnify the Lord. The face of parents seeing their newborn son or daughter for the first time will glow with a shimmer of transparent joy that says “My Soul Magnifies the Lord!!”.  The  glee of a child running toward his or her parent with a perfect progress report may reach such levels of excitement that in body language he or she effuses “My soul Magnifies the Lord” The athlete that wins, breaking that sport's  world record may boast with shouts of joy that echo Mary's “My soul Magnifies the Lord” There are times, however. when the magnitude of the experience is such  that without effort and almost as a natural progression or outgrowth of the experience the voice will shout: “My soul Magnifies the Lord”

     A few years ago John and I were.traveling in Europe, and when we got to Paris, John began complaining of a sore throat.  Thinking it something minor that would subside in a few days,  we continued vacationing.  He was medicating his throat with lozenges and gargling with saltwater.. However, by the time we got to Amsterdam, he was running a high fever, so we. consulted a doctor who diagnosed it as strep throat.  We were told we needed to be very careful with him because there had been some deaths associated with this strain. Under no circumstances were we to travel.

     We stayed put in our room.  I only went out to bring him food and medications;  and to check emails from back home, letting family

know the latest prognosis.   One morning when I opened my email, I had emails from almost everyone of my family members. I found out the urgency the minute i opened the first email.  My Dad had suffered a heart attack, was on life support, and I was being urged to fly home immediately.

     This situation continued for about a week,with us waiting for the doctor to release John, and at the same time both of us mourning a Dad we both loved. I lost count of the rosaries I prayed. I no longer relied on email.  I would call everyday to check on Dad's status.  The dad who taught me how to bike, who taught me how to use a typewriter. and who also would laugh at all my off color jokes.  My Dad was dying. No, not some relative. It was My Dad who was dying, and I could not be there!!!! I was trying my best to nurse John back to health, and what improvement there was, was done in very small baby steps.  My worst nightmare was to loose them both

      After seven days of antibiotics and constant bed rest, John

finally was given the all clear and immediately I made arrangements to fly home the following morning, I went down the street to the telephone booth to call the hospital, and inform family we were coming.  The phone rang and who should answer but my Dad. I was ecstatic I laughed and cried at the same time. As if the surprise were not enough, when I opened the door to leave the telephone booth, a title-wave of balloons of all colors were released into the air.  It was the Beginning of Gay Pride Amsterdam.  For me it was God telling me he had heard my prayers, At that very moment My Soul Magnified the Lord and My Spirit Rejoiced at God my Savior!!!!

     May this Christmas bring you health and good cheer.  And may an awareness of God working in each of your lives ignite your heart's with love, the joy of which causes you to shout with your mega voice:

My Soul Magnifies the Lord, and my Spirit Rejoices in God my Savior.