4th Sunday of Advent - Sunday, December 19, 2021

Father Jim Donohue's picture

Father Jim Donohue

December 14, 2021

In his book The Hospitality of God: A Reading of Luke’s Gospel, Brendan Byrne points out that the Canticle of Zechariah announces that “the Lord, the God of Israel, has visited and brought redemption to his people” (Lk 1:68). As the Gospel of Luke plays out, we will see that some will welcome and offer hospitality to this “visitor from on high” and some will not. Those who do offer this hospitality, those who have some openness to Him—no matter how small—will in turn be welcomed into the hospitality of God. In other words, different characters in Luke’s gospel have the opportunity to be transformed by God’s love and mercy because they were open to this happening.

In the gospel today, we see Elizabeth offering hospitality to Mary who is carrying the Christ-child. She begins the long list of characters—Peter, who puts his nets out again after a fruitless night of fishing; the leper, who approaches Jesus in hope of healing; Levi, who is willing to leave his custom post to follow Jesus; Zacchaeus, who climbs the sycamore tree in order to see Jesus—who are open and hospitable to Jesus and who, in turn, are transformed by God’s greater hospitality of grace and mercy.

As positive as all this sounds, we know, however, that not everyone will be equally welcoming. In another week, we will hear that there is “no room in the inn” for this visitor from on high. Early in the gospel, we will encounter the hostility of the religious authorities who quickly decide to put all their energy into plotting his death.

The remaining part of the Advent season provides us with an opportunity to take stock of our own lives and ensure that we are open to welcoming our Savior, however and whenever He comes into our lives. We pray that we will be hospitable, creating time and space. We anticipate that in doing so, we, in turn, will be welcomed into God’s hospitality.