Homilette for Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday of the Third Week of Advent

(Judges 13:2-7.24-25a; Luke 1:5-25)

We feel for couples who want to have children but remain barren. Often they seem to be the most virtuous of people – she, gentle and caring; he, responsible and understanding. Raising offspring like themselves would not only fulfill the couple’s desire but would also give hope to their neighbors for a nobler society. Why, we ask, does God not grant them their continual prayer for a family?

Children, however, are not human property but belong to God. They are born to serve His design for a more just creation. In both readings today God grants the barren couples a son to further His purpose of preparing for the coming of Christ. Manoah and his wife will give birth to Samson who will defeat the enemies of the Israelites among whom Jesus will be born. Zechariah and Elizabeth will give birth to John who will announce that the Lord is at hand. Does God take pity on these pious couples because they pray to Him?

Yes, we can be sure of that. But we should not see their having children as necessarily the answer to their prayers. It is wiser to see Jesus as God’s response to all our prayers whether for children, a new job, or whatever. He is the gift which makes life worthwhile. He is our personal savior, who will yank us beyond death into eternal life. He is also the model of justice and prudence which may guide all peoples to peaceful earthly coexistence whether or not they recognize his divinity. Finally (and this is purely Christian hope), he is the omega point of the evolving universe who will bring the restless stars of the heavens together in harmony.