A couple of years ago, when I was in Ireland, I had the opportunity to climb the Croagh Patrick. This 764-meter mountain is an important pilgrimage site in Mayo, Ireland. I found it a herculean task to climb steep rocks and slippery slopes, even though I was wearing good boots and had two walking sticks. It took me around three hours to reach the top. I was gasping for breath and tired. I thought of giving up when I was halfway to the top. But something kept me going.
Once I reached the top, I found myself complaining about how tough it was. I thought it was too tough and tiring. However, after some rest, as I was about to climb down the hill, I saw a young pregnant woman climbing up the rocky hill barefoot. Though exhausted, she looked joyful. Looking at her, I told myself, “Oh God, I will never complain again.”
Today, there are many people who are forlorn and without hope and joy. They keep complaining when they experience tough times. In the first reading from Zephaniah, the prophet brought hope to the people who were in exile. They thought that the Lord was no longer with them. Their lives were unpredictable and lacking joy. The prophet assured them that God was with them, so they should shout for joy.
The Scripture readings tell us that if the Lord is present in our lives, we should be filled with joy. In the gospel, we see how God’s presence filled Mary, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist with joy. We see how Mary hurried off to the hill country filled with God, overjoyed with the desire to fulfill her duty of piety, to declare the blessings of the Lord’s presence speedily. Like that woman in Ireland, Mary would have been exhausted walking and climbing in the hill country. But Mary was on fire for God, and she did it with joy.
Mary teaches us to grow in faith, connect with our family and friends, and always be on fire for the God-given vocation in our life.
As we are soon approaching Christmas, let the faith of Mary be in each of us to be filled with the fire of God’s love and to encourage others in their faith.Let the soul of Mary help us to bring Jesus into our lives through devout prayer, and to bring Him to others. Let the spirit of Mary be in each of us to bear the presence of Christ in our words, deeds, and service, and to grow to that height of love, compassion, and care for humanity through our way of life.
May you have a blessed Christmas and a joy-filled season.
To view Rosary prayer and Mass streaming live, please visit our Facebook pageat 11:30 am EDT, Monday – Friday. Please invite your loved ones to join us too! (You don't need a Facebook account to view.)
About Father Pinto Paul, C.S.C.
Father Pinto Paul C.S.C., ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1999, worked with tribal populations in northeast India as a missionary for ten years. In 2010 he came to the US for further studies. While working as a campus minister at Stonehill College, he assisted pastors in local parishes, led seminars and workshops for teachers and students in the US and earned a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Boston College and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Lesley University, Cambridge. He is currently working as the International Director of the Boston-based Holy Cross Family Ministries with missions in 17 countries.