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Sermon on the Fourth Sunday of Advent 2009






The Paradox of Mary’s Blessedness
On the Gospel of Luke 1: 39-44

For many, the 21st century is an era marked by the rise of women in society. It is frequently said that they have far surpassed the talents and abilities of men in almost all areas in life from politics, medicine, mass media, music, and even in sports, except perhaps, in football but who knows the next generation maybe a surprising one. Many of you know, one of my frustrations in life is basketball. I wasn’t gifted with a height good enough to qualify in NBA or in any professional league maybe because of my genes and skills something almost hard for me to accept. I needed help from someone who’s not afraid to tell me to give up hopes in hoops and stop dreaming of becoming a star and just settle and be satisfied with pick-up games in the fitness center or in OMOS with Junior High and lower grades. At least 3 times a week, I go to LA fitness, lift weights and shoot some baskets sort of, anger management and stress reliever. On one occasion, yours truly was tasked to guard a college girl perhaps because of my short stature. It was fine with me as I didn’t have to move a lot. At the start, I went easy with her but in the course of the game, she humiliated me in front of many by surprisingly making a sharp spin move in a cross over. Ohhhh man was the guys reaction. I said, almost out of desperation and shame, Are you serious? So much for that.

Back to serious stuff. I was talking about women rising to great heights…

Hillary Clinton, for example, was on the brink of making history as the nation’s first woman President and as the Secretary of State, she’s a global celebrity, Sarah Palin’s book “Going Rogue” has become a sensation, the late Benazir Bhutto, the opposition party leader in Pakistan, became the voice for the voiceless, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, a leading proponent of strong action against global warming, Sonia Sotomayor, in a highly controversial and politicized nomination, became the first Hispanic woman who joined the Supreme Court Justices, Mother Teresa, a Nobel peace prize winner in 1979, on the way to sainthood and Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement, a champion of social justice, etc. These famous figures and amazing personalities are only a few of the numerous women who change the tempo of the world by their monumental contribution. Obviously, the tide’s turning. An exclusively men’s world, for the boys, is slowly fading. In fact, some women are earning more than their husband, which were unimaginable a couple of generations back. They can do stuff and rock. They certainly made a profound impact, created a huge influence and left a perpetual and lasting memory.

This was not unprecedented in history, however. Judith’s story in the Old Testament was one of them. She was known as the woman warrior who killed the leader of an Army on behalf of the nation Israel. As a result, she was called ‘blessed’ for beheading, Holofernes, the commander of the Assyrian Army. Likewise, Jael, the heroine, was remembered for the crushing defeat of Sisera, the commander of a foreign enemy.

A lowly girl of thirteen or fourteen, sixteen at the most, whose name was Mary from a poor and insignificant town of Nazareth, betrothed to a man, named Joseph, heard the voice of an Angel and said Yes to the offer, even if, she knew from the start, it would jeopardize her relationship. By agreeing to the Angel’s startling proposal, Mary put herself in a precarious situation because to get pregnant by someone other than your engaged is considered across the board, a taboo, in any society, ancient, medieval or modern. Her acceptance speech was a very brave decision and highly surprising. It was a response, opaque in nature.

When she paid a visit to her cousin Elizabeth, she was put on the pedestal by personally elevating her among the ranks of the Blessed women in the bible due to the event that preceded the visitation. She was called ‘blessed’ for choosing life and not destroying it.

“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

Mary’s blessedness stands in stark contrast with the other women because there was no element of violence present. She was blessed for believing the words of the Lord and for her willingness to bear a son, despite placed between a rock and a hard place. She helped fulfill the plan of God in a non-violent manner, a scenario far removed from the context of killing and self- promotion.

Mary’s blessedness reminds me of the Single Mother, laid off from work, raising four children from three different men relying solely on child support, the Mother of five, working 3 jobs just to stay afloat in this tough economy, a divorced Mother, with bills to pay, house to clean before the holidays, gas tank to fill, meals to fix, gifts to wrap, presents to buy, groceries to shop, parties to attend, time to manage, trying to survive without child- support and a woman tied up in a squeezed generation, by taking care of a child and an aged Mother. They may not be gifted with exceptional and extraordinary talents but, surely, they’re the unsung heroes in today’s world.

Mary’s blessedness represents the many women who have remained silent despite enduring horrible abuses, discrimination, and violence of all sorts. Her story demonstrates God’s gracious vindication of those individuals, men and women, young and old, disabled or not, who have been put on the margins.

I think this is what Christmas, the coming of Jesus, in human flesh and blood, is about, a narration of the un-narrated and recognition of the often unrecognized. Amen.

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A Filipino Catholic Priest, born and raised in Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines, ordained for the Diocese of Tucson, AZ, eleven years in ministry and counting, currently assigned as Pastor of St. Christopher Catholic Parish, Marana, AZ.

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