December 15, 2019 - Pastor Message05/18/2021
THE YEAR OF DISCIPLESHIP PART 3: WELCOMING HELPERS
“During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled’” (Luke 1:3945).
The visit of the newly pregnant Mary to her sixmonth pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, also known as the Visitation, offers a unique example of welcome welcoming those who come to help us. Pregnancy, under any circumstances, can be difficult. Elizabeth was “advanced in years” (Luke 1:18), well past childbearing age, when she became pregnant with John (later known as the baptist), and John was apparently as rambunctious in the womb as he was out of it, leaping for joy when Mary and her unborn son, Jesus, drew near. No doubt Elizabeth experienced many difficulties in her miraculous pregnancy, and Mary came to assist her through the final months. How did Elizabeth respond? She welcomed Mary with open arms, rejoicing that God had blessed her with this special opportunity to experience his saving grace through Mary’s help.
One of the constant concerns of nearly every ministry here at St. Boniface is the lack of new recruits and volunteers to help with those ministries. Yet, when new volunteers step up to help, do we welcome them like Elizabeth welcomed Mary? Do we see in their assistance a special opportunity to experience God’s saving grace and open ourselves to the new possibilities they bring? Do we go out of our way to let them know that we appreciate them and the help they bring and encourage them to keep coming to help again? Or do we succumb to the bane of every volunteer organization, the “we’ve always done it this way” attitude, seeing new helpers as outsiders who simply need to get in line and do what they’re told by the “real” volunteers who’ve been doing this for years?
This Advent, as we prepare to welcome the Lord again, let us take some time to examine our own efforts to welcome those who come to help us in our ministries and activities. May the example of Elizabeth guide us to see in them the presence of Christ, and, like John in the womb, may we leap for joy at the special blessing new volunteers bring to us and to the mission of our parish.
Fr. Marc Stockton