An incredible risk

By: Sr. Rachel Bergschneider, OSB

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Dec. 20

Micah 5:1-4a; Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45

I RECENTLY heard a story about a couple who regularly visited an inmate in prison. When it was time for the prisoner to be paroled, the couple, who owned a restaurant, thought about it and decided to hire the man to be a delivery person for the restaurant. Business was gong well until word got out that the person making the deliveries was a recent parolee; then business became less and less brisk. Finally, the couple had to declare bankruptcy.

After praying about the situation for awhile, they decided to open a business under a different name and bring the former delivery person on board with them in management. It was a great risk for them, but they believed in their decision. It was life-giving for the man. What happened was truly remarkable. The second business was a greater success than the first one. The surprise ending brought new life not only to the couple but to the parolee.

Not many of us would be willing to take such risky ventures nor would we think it advisable for anyone to do so. And look what happened!

GOD TOOK an even greater risk in sending an angel to the young woman to give her news that was without any logic. Mary was to conceive and bear a child — Mary, who was not married. Mary took an incredible risk in her openness to believe the words of the angel.

How could anyone make any sense out of such an announcement that this young woman who had never known a man would conceive and give birth to “God with us” — Jesus. Yet Mary was amazingly open to possibilities. She did not cut short God’s plan by fear or logic. She responded in trust to the One she knew would not let her down.

Mary got out of the way and took the incredible risk of changing the face of history. Her trust is truly an example for us.

ARE WE willing to listen to God’s plans for us through prayer, circumstances in life, and others, or do we find ourselves hesitating in fear and logic? Are we willing to be surprised by God, who has in mind for us much more than we could ever conjure up for ourselves? Is the possibility of new life borne of our trust in God ever to bear fruit?

Micah reminds us that Jesus’ roots are simple and humble. The town of Bethlehem, “too small to be among the clans of Judah,” will be the root of greatness bringing forth the “ruler of Israel” — the Lord God.
And this Jesus who Mary bore came into the world as “peace.” Israel had known the ravages of war so the promise of a child of “peace” came as a sign of great hope. It would be by peace, not war, that the child’s domain would “reach to the ends of the earth.”

THIS CHRISTMAS is a time of renewal for each of us to look back at our own history and know that out of the entangled roots we inherit comes the “peace” we so seek. In our wish of peace for each other, we realize that Jesus’ birth into our world today depends upon each of us who is willing to bear Jesus into the world and extend the promise of peace.

I pray that the peace we extend will be backed by the pledge to create a more peaceful world in our family, our community, and our world. May the peace of Christ be borne in you this season!

A member of the Sisters of St. Benedict of St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, Sister Rachel Bergschneider, OSB, is the pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights.

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