Comforting Presence
4th Sunday of Advent (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Christmas is when we celebrate God’s visitation of His people. Christmas is a visiting season. It is the time when sons and daughters visit parents and grandparents. It is the season for family reunions and class reunions. It is the time when those working outside the country come home and be with their loved ones.

Action starter: See and talk to someone you love. Renew your bonds.

Christmas is also the time when one feels most alone. Many parish priests experience this feeling of being alone after the Christmas midnight mass when their parishioners have gone to their respective homes. With all the hectic parish activities and the traditional nine-day dawn masses, after midnight mass I preferred to stay in the rectory instead of making the rounds of Christmas parties. I also remember my first Christmas out of the country many years ago. As a student in a foreign country I had no family to go home to. I went to the community of an American classmate. I missed the familiar rituals of Misa de Gallo (cold winter mornings) and the presence of friends and loved ones.

Although modern means of communications enable us to see each other and talk to each other, still nothing can substitute for the physical presence of loved ones.

On this last Sunday of Advent, the gospel tells the story of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth must have felt the need for someone to talk with. Her husband Zechariah could not speak. She has never experienced conceiving and giving birth. It was difficult for her to be moving around on her sixth month of bearing John the Baptist. It was such a big comfort for her to see her cousin Mary who came to help out. She stayed three months until John was born. Mary brought a comforting presence to her cousin Elizabeth. She brought companionship and friendship.

Many of us are busy people. It seems that the more technology has made travel faster and easier, the less time we have to visit one another. The more sophisticated means of communications are invented, the less meaningful conversations we have. With faster communication, we save the visit to the last minute and we stay for a few hours. Instead of real talk, our conversations are reduced to hi’s and hello’s. In my class of college students this week, I made an informal survey. Out of forty-three only fifteen have sent a letter by post in the past year. Perhaps five have sent Christmas cards. I asked why and the answer was that they prefer texting or calling. The mode of communication is changing.

Let us make the most of our visits this Christmas. Let us talk and enjoy one another’s presence. May this Christmas renew the bonds among us. Have a Blessed Christmas.