Archbishop’s Teaching

5th Sunday in Advent The Visitation Luke 1: 39-45

Homily of His Excellency Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

5th Sunday in Advent
The Visitation
Luke 1: 39-45

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

There is no need to check the social media every day to realize that our
world is going badly. No good news that gives hope, encourages us to
believe that our tomorrows will be sunny, or dreams for children that the
world they are growing up in is a place where it is good to live. Could
there be good news that transcends the dramatic events our world is
experiencing? Over 2000 years ago, there circulated Good News in the
Middle East, which is currently "engulfed" by the brutality of a merciless
war. This Good News took flesh in the heart of a girl called Mary...
Having welcomed the Word of God made flesh, following the
announcement of the angel of the Lord, Mary did not stay at home. The
joy she received from this announcement led her to run to her relative
Elizabeth to share with her the joy of the wonders of this God for whom
nothing is impossible, who gives offspring to a barren woman and gives
his child to a Virgin.
More than a visit of friendship or mutual aid between Mary and Elizabeth,
it is a mutual revelation that this visit tells us about. Each woman reveals
to the other the mystery of their astonishing maternity. Mary, through her
greeting reveals to Elizabeth that she bears the mystery of God incarnate.
Elisabeth reveals to Mary that she is the mother of the Savior through the
joy of the child of promise she carries. To Elizabeth's happiness in feeling
the child leap within her, Mary responds with a song of exultation, a
trembling of faith that animates her: "Blessed is she who believed that
there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
As Pope Francis points out, it is this leap of faith that is missing from our
hearts, accustomed to listening to the Word of God every Sunday, without
this Word retaining its flavor of Good News to touch our hearts, to convert
us, to constantly draw the joy of hope into our lives, and to enlighten us
so that we can face the trials in our lives. How, without this Good News,
can we remain confident of the Lord's presence in the midst of the storms
of our lives, that He is with us whatever happens, that the impossible for
us is not impossible for Him, and that with Mary we can give thanks for
everything and despite everything that happens to us? How, without
bringing this Good News to others, can we still become, like Mary,
witnesses that the Lord wants to save us and share His life with us in the
joy of hope?
Mary's eagerness to go to her cousin's house must also be the eagerness
of each and every one of us to reach out to others: in our families, in our
parishes, in the workplace, with our neighbors... to bring the joy of the
Gospel, not in words, but first and foremost through the witness of our
lives: this can take the form of a simple presence to others, to listen to
them, to try to understand them, to console them, to help them to hope
against and despite everything...

Virgin and Mother Mary, you who, inspired by the Spirit, welcomed the
Word of life with humble faith and a heart totally surrendered to the
Eternal, help us to have such faith and a heart full of gratitude for the Lord
in order to carry, like you, with eagerness the Good News, who is Jesus,
your beloved Son, our Savior, to all those with whom we live and whom
we meet.

† Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

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