As we heard in the first reading Bethlehem was a small town near Jerusalem.
Because of its location it always stood in the shadow of the capital and probably would have been long forgotten but God had other plans.
As we all know God chose Bethlehem to be the birthplace of Jesus and now this little backwater town has been written on our hearts until the end of time.
Elizabeth and Zechariah were good people.
Zechariah was of the priestly class and regularly did his service in the temple. He and his wife lived in Hebron in the hill country. We read in the scriptures that they were both righteous before God
Yet for they were not blessed with a child.
While it was never written in the scriptures, or taught in the synagogues, many people during the time of Jesus mistakenly felt that someone who could not have a child had in some way offended God.
Elizabeth lived with this prejudice and pain for a long time and then one day while doing his turn of service in the Temple her husband had an experience of God, and when he came home she was blessed with a Child.
Zechariah felt that he and his wife were too old to have a child and because he doubted the Angel Gabriel’s message he could not speak until the baby was born.
God took a couple considered too old and through the love they shared gave us all the last prophet of the Old Testament and the first martyr of the New Testament John the Baptist.
Mary was a little Girl. She was inexperienced in the world and recently betrothed to Joseph, yet God had a plan for her.
And of course she knew that she risked being rejected by many and possibly even being put to death for having a child out of wedlock.
Yet the Mary, said yes to God’s plan.
Who knows how she felt after that encounter with the Angel?
Was she excited?
Was she afraid?
Did she think it was a dream?
Was she concerned about her relative Elizabeth who was mentioned in the conversation with the Angel ?
Whatever the case, once she saw Elizabeth,
once she saw that what the Angel had said about Elizabeth was true,
then Mary must have also been reassured that what the Angel said to her was true.
What does all of this have to do with us.
First of all we,
just Like God had a plan for the town of Bethlehem
and God had a plan for Zechariah and Elizabeth
and God had a plan for Mary.
God has a plan for us.
And that plan might not make sense in the eyes of the World
Remember in the eyes of the world Bethlehem was too small
Elizabeth and Zechariah were too old
and Mary was too young.
God’s ways are not our ways…
And God’s thoughts are not our thoughts
and should something unexpected come our way we have to learn to trust in God’s love and do the best we can.
That’s what Mary and Elizabeth and Zechariah did and that’s what we have to dol
The second conclusion we need to make is that when we try to follow God’s plan
The road isn’t always clear.
Just like there was certainly doubt and fear as God plan unfolded in the lives of Elizabeth, Zechariah and Mary,
there may be doubt and fear as God’s plan unfolds in our lives yet,
like they trusted and we have to trust.
It is also important to notice that to help Mary and Elizabeth with his plan for their lives God gave them each other.
Elizabeth helped Mary and Mary helped Elizabeth.
Rest assured God will send us people to help us along the way to help us follow God’s plan.
A life of faith is always best lived with others. When one gets confused or tired or afraid along the road the other carries them for a while.
That’s what being a Church is all about.
So good people
God has a plan for us
When we follow God’s plan it won’t always be crystal clear
Rest assured that God will send us people along the wayto help us on our way
All we have to do is say yes.
In these final days of preparation for Christmas let’s do our best to keep our eyes and our hearts fixed Jesus
Jesus who loves us
Jesus who saved us
Jesus who needs us to follow his plan for each one of us…