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December 22, Fourth Sunday of Advent Luke 1/26-8
Catholic Homilies
December 22nd, 2002

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Fourth Sunday of Advent Luke 1/26-8


Father Raymond Brown in his masterful book on the Infancy Narratives says that these stories are "theologumena," not so much literal history but stories with a theological point - the other gratuitous and revolutionary impact of Jesus's birth life and death. It is perhaps not too necessary to fixate on this point. People love the Christmas stories because of their beauty and their hopefulness and their excitement. In fact, we do not know how they were put together or where they come from or how they got into the Gospels. It is certainly not forbidden to think that there might be a good deal more history in them that we are able to prove. But the important point is that they are stories of God's love and of Jesus role in history and that's what counts, not historical details. One element is literally true, however. The story teller puts on Mary's lips the totally accurate prediction (which perhaps the real Mary would not have dared to say) that all nations would call her blessed. They sure have.

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Once upon a time there was a woman who hated children. She had been raised in a large family where there were constant fights between the parents, between parents and children, and among the children. She did not want to be any part of a family like that ever again in her life. Kids were noisy, obnoxious brats. They were messy, ungrateful, dishonest. From the moment of conception till you finally got rid of them when you sent them off to college, they caused nothing but pain. And they fought with you for the rest of your life and broke your heart. Her friends who had children said that her picture of children was incomplete. They were also wonderful, even if they were often pesky brats. Her husband wanted children desperately, but she told him that he wanted them so much he should find himself another wife. Well, one day she found that something had gone wrong and she was pregnant. She instantly thought about having and abortion to get rid of the child before anyone found out a! bout it. She hesitated. You ought to take a chance with the kid, one of her friends - the only to whom she had told the bad news advised her. She even went to see a doctor about an abortion, but then she changed her mind at the last minute and decided to take a chance. Every woman how ever becomes pregnant takes a chance, her friend said. Well, you know what happened. You'd think she'd invented motherhood! Moreover she was a very good mother and did not repeat the mistakes of the family in which she was raised. Her children adored her. Mary took a chance too, not utterly different from the one every mother takes. That is the nature of life, of responding to the kingdom, to seize the rich opportunities it offers us

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That is the nature of life, of responding to the kingdom, to seize the rich opportunities it offers us
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