Pause Ponder Pray – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily December 19, 2020

“This fourth Sunday of Advent is traditionally designated as Mary day. It is a day in which we reflect with Mary as she looks forward to the birth of Jesus. We’re drawing closer to Christmas. We celebrate Christmas this coming Friday, but we, in the spirit of Mary, are called to anticipate and to think about the importance of what we are to celebrate. Mary of course being pregnant with Jesus as any pregnant woman I imagine would do would be wondering, waiting, considering when will this birth take place? What will be the circumstances? What will this child be? And even though there had been that revelation, Mary was still acting in faith and in trust in God as any woman giving birth would do and so we are invited to enter into a spirit of really reflection. I read recently that there are three p’s for today: 

  1. Pause
  2. Ponder
  3. Pray

To pause, we’re in the midst of hectic times with getting ready for Christmas. There’s so much flurry of activity that goes on whether it’s in terms of gift buying or gift wrapping or baking or decorating or all those things that go on and it can be a very hectic time, but it’s important for us, if we are to truly enter into the spirit of this season to pause, to take time, to put aside a lot of the distractions and to focus in more on the event, the importance of what is there.

To ponder, in the scripture in Luke’s Gospel in another place it says that, ‘Mary pondered all these things in her heart.’ We are called to ponder God’s love for us. That is the message of Christmas. That is the message of Christmas. It is God’s tremendous love for each and every one of us and to ponder that. Not to take it for granted, but to realize that the manifestation of God become incarnate, God taking on humanity is out of pure love for each of us individually as well as for all of us together, to ponder the mystery of a God who loves us that much. Mary pondered  God’s love not only for her, but for all those who were to experience salvation through the gift of her son. She pondered the invitation that God had given her to bring forth a savior, the redeemer and I’m sure she didn’t understand everything. We kinda tend to project back into Mary and say she knew everything from the beginner. I’m convinced that she didn’t. She lived as a woman of faith, as a woman of trust in God and to ponder that for ourselves as well. We’re living in difficult times. There’s a lot of anxiety in our world right now. There’s a lot of concern and caring and Joseph and Mary as they went to Bethlehem had a lot of anxiety as well, but she trusted and it’s a message for us of trust, of a confidence in a God who loves us, who is present with us, who walks with us in the journey, who bids us to put aside the anxiety and to live in great peace in our own minds and hearts and so we are called to ponder, but we’re also called to pray.

Mary’s prayer was beautifully expressed in those last lines of today’s Gospel, ‘Be it done unto me according to thy word. I’m but the handmaid of the Lord.’ That’s a prayer that Mary offered of total openness of receptivity to God and we are not quite probably as open as Mary was and so to pray that we may be truly open to receive a savior, to recognize in humility that we need a savior and to be willing to humbly accept the salvation that comes to us in Christ Jesus that we are called to pray for an openness to God’s gift of himself in Christ and to allow Christ to transform us to continually take away the negativity and to replace it with the gift of his love, the beauty of his trust, the gift of his life.

There’s a little litany that I would like to close with today (and this is not one of Fr. Charles’ little prayer poems) but there’s a response of ‘come Lord Jesus.’

‘Come into our hearts
Come into our homes
Come to those who are lonely
Come to those who are afraid
Come to those who are ill
Come to those who are poor
Come to those who are grieving
Come to those who have no faith
Come to those who have no hope
Come to those who have no love
Come to the victims of violence
Come to those in the grip of addiction
Come to those in prison
Come to us in our needs this Christmas’”