“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Luke 1:45
The women in Luke’s Gospel always amaze me. The two I remember today with affection are Mary and Elizabeth—devoted cousins, faithful servants of God, and expectant mothers.
Carrying the gift of life in their womb, the women prepared themselves for their unique calling. They could not understand the fullness of their mission. But they placed their complete trust in God—Mary a virgin, Elizabeth a woman well past her prime. And like most mothers-to-be, they had dreams for their children. Because that’s what mothers do.
Some of you know that I spent decades in Africa, most recently in Kenya. In the week before Christmas, I am praying for the mothers and pregnant women I served in Nairobi. They have dreams, too, and some are managing new lives transformed by the grace of mission. In the waning days of Advent, I want to share their story.
When the pandemic hit Kenya, many cities and towns went into a tailspin. Jobs dried up and unemployment in the informal economy topped 50%. Then the government imposed a curfew and by 7:00 pm the streets were empty. People who ate two meals a day were the lucky ones. Among the people who suffered the most were the commercial sex workers and their children. They had no food—and no money for rent, school fees, or medical care.
We found a way out of this nightmare. In East Africa small businesses import used clothing from the global north that is then sold by local street vendors. As I had hoped, many women were eager to give street vending a try. Some even decided to band together as a group business for protection and safety. Keep in mind… many of these women had been thrown out of their homes by husbands who wanted another wife or partner. Their life choices were made out of desperation.
What did those mothers dream about? Not unlike Mary and Elizabeth, I can tell you they dreamed about providing for their children. They dreamed about a transformed world—a Promised Land—where justice overcomes hate, where the poor, the hungry and the abused are free of deprivation, where mothers can raise their children in safety.
Friend, the Christmas story about to unfold is richer for me than ever before. I give thanks for the dreams that motivate people to survive, and I give thanks for those who participate in dreams by rescuing people in crisis. May the birth of the Christ Child be your inspiration to share His love in ways that only you can.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Lance Nadeau, M.M.
Fourth Sunday of Advent
O come, Emanuel, God-with-us,
into our world, our homes, and our hearts
even as You made the Virgin Mary the living Tabernacle
of Your glory and Elizabeth a sign of hope in old age.
Bless all expectant mothers with the grace
and strength they will need to bring new life
into our world, and the wisdom to raise their children
in love of the Lord, bless all fathers with gentleness
and courage to be models of virtue to their sons and daughters.
May all people work together to build a
better world where children are wanted,
loved, fed, clothed and educated
the better to reflect the divine image
in which we are all created to the glory of God.
Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.