I Sam. 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
“For nothing is impossible for God.”
A short and pithy phrase at the end of today’s Gospel reading from Luke. A phrase which may roll smoothly off our tongues and sound very proper, Christian, and fitting but for us today is it only a form of ‘pious prattle’, words that sound holy with no real referent to reality or praxis.
Nothing is impossible for God? In 2020 it may be hard for us to sense a God of immense possibilities whose power of Love is limitless. It may also be the case that we see many cases where goodness and righteousness are seemingly thwarted by evil or indifference. So how do we believe in a God for whom ‘nothing is impossible’?
First, we have today’s reading of the Annunciation, a story of God’s not only allowing Mary to have child beyond normal means but also doing the same for her aged cousin, Elizabeth. How odd both of these events must have seen at the time! No doubt both women became the center of rumor, gossip and shock by friends and family. Our God is not restricted by normal boundaries and can shock us but on His timing not ours.
Second, perhaps just as important, often when we look at the ‘God question’ (Is there a God? Where is God? How can God allow this to happen?) our minds jump immediately to abstractions when maybe it would be better, to begin with our personal experience. When have we sensed the presence of God in our lives, whether in times of quiet reflection or hectic family events or as a word of consolation when suffering? It is our personal relationship and experience of God that is central (which is why prayer is so important- just like we talk to our husband or wife daily). This will not give us a cheery answer to life’s tragedies or personal pains but puts them in perspective. The Christian answer to suffering is personal, pointing us to a Crucified Christ who suffered out of love; we suffer also but have the promise that He walks with us to help us carry our crosses.
Finally, perhaps we look sometimes in the wrong places to see God’s power at work. God’s workings are not just evident in wondrous events but in ordinary events of daily life. Can we not see God giving parents love and patience in raising children? Can we not see God in drawing us from self-destructive habits? Is God not at work when relationships are mended by giving one person the courage to say ‘I am sorry’ and the other the humility to say ‘I accept your apology’? God’s power is infinite but often seen more clearly in small events which can surprise us in a delightful way.
So, as we prepare for the Solemnity of the Nativity (Christmas) remember our God can make anything possible and this God chose out of love for us to be born as a vulnerable child. He experienced the fullness of our human condition to show us God.
So on December 25 please Celebrate this event, this love, and this reality, and please do not let fear or Caesar tell you not to do so!
Please remember to support Mission Doctors however you can. God bless you and Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent!