Saturday of the Third Week of Advent
I recall being pleasantly surprised the day I heard the news that my brother, Bob, and sister-in-law, Abby, were expecting their first child. This was to be the first grandchild for our side of the family. I remember being delighted when they phoned us and told us that the ultrasound showed they were having a little girl. After that, my mother and I always seemed to “accidentally” find ourselves in the section for baby girls’ in every store we visited :)
But something felt a little off. I felt somewhat removed from the situation. You see, Bob and Abby had moved to Michigan just over a year ago. At first, we talked on the phone often. But then a little less often. And then, a week or two would pass between phone calls. As the distance became more pronounced, I felt…disconnected.
Then, this Thanksgiving, my mother and I flew up to Michigan to visit Bob and Abby. As Abby stepped out of the car at the Airport to greet us, I couldn’t help but notice that she was glowing (she truly was!) and her face was a picture of beaming serenity. I also couldn’t help but notice her protruding, round belly! As soon as I hugged Abby and put my hand on her belly, it suddenly became very real for me. This was really happening! There was life growing in there. My baby niece was growing in there! Once that thought finally registered, I was filled with incredible joy and a great sense of excitement began to grow in me.
I can only imagine the sense of excitement Elizabeth must have felt all those years ago when “Mary 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”. [LK 1:39 -41]
As with the case of seeing and touching Abby’s belly, once Mary’s voice sounded, it all became even more real for Elizabeth. She was “filled with the Holy Spirit, [and] cried out in a loud voice and said “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb". [LK 1:41 -42]
As we rush around getting bogged down in the logistical preparations for the Christmas celebration - shopping, cooking, baking and cleaning the house in anticipation of friends and family from near and far coming to visit - let us take a moment to reflect.
Let us picture the faces of our loved ones – those that we will see this Christmas holiday and those that are no longer with us. Picture the baby Jesus statue finally being placed as part of the nativity scene on Christmas morning. Imagine the joy an expectant mother feels to meet her newborn. And let that love, joy, and anticipation be at the forefront and color all that we do. Let the important part of Christmas become “real” for us – the anticipation of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Caroline Kaikati is the Program Manager for Corporate and Foundation Relations at SLU.