Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a
But they (Zechariah and Elizabeth) had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years. Luke 1:7
Over the years, married couples have come to see me about their struggle to have children. Many of them began their married life thinking that having a child would not be a problem. They thought that the problems would come from other sources: not enough money, not having steady jobs or they were beginning their married life far away from parents and relatives. In a sense, they all thought that they were in control of their lives.
The years go by and they try very hard to have a family. They go to doctors, listen to all of the folk remedies offered by friends and go to Church to pray for children. Slowly, the situation begins to wear on them, and some of them will begin to see their marriages suffer. Many will seek pastoral or professional counseling at that point. Childless marriages are very stressful to a marriage.
Both readings for today’s Mass deal with childless marriages. The first reading is about Samson’s parents. Israel was in need of a savior at that moment in history. God chose this childless couple to give birth to a warrior who would lead the Israelites against their enemies. The second reading is about Zachariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. They were childless but God chose them give birth to a key person in Salvation History, John the Baptist. We admire these parents for not giving up on God and allowing God to enter into their lives for the good of all.
We all know that God’s ways are not our ways. Advent is the perfect time for us to reflect upon that truth. God’s Plan of Salvation will not be frustrated because we do not get our first wish or if things do not go our way. Advent is leaving ourselves open to what God may place before us, no matter how bleak the future looks. Both parents that we read about in today’s Mass were really surprised to see how their sons turned out. When these parents first got married, they probably had very different lives planned for their children. Yet God chose them and their children to continue our path of Salvation.
Advent is adjusting to the circumstances that life brings us. That is hard work. Advent asks us to delve deep within us to find our center, that point of contact with our God and our truest identity. That is where the Child Jesus will be born. Yes, once we were childless. Now, we have given birth to the Child Jesus! Where there was once no life, now there is New Life. What a great preparation for Christmas this season is for us!
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is a member of Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago, Illinois.