Fourth Sunday of Advent


Sometimes visions can be dangerous
Not because of their details, but because of our doubting them

Take for example the story of a young mother
who left her motherland of Hungary some 45 years ago to come to the U.S.
She brought her family and her daughter’s teddy bear
with about $1200 in cash hidden and sewn into its seams
as the communist government at the time
made it illegal to take money out of the country

and so she left everything she knew
all because she had a vision as well as an invitation
to keep following her passion and to develop an idea that she had begun working on many years before

She was tireless in every sense of the word…
even at one point not realizing that over a five-month period she had been working every single day and often had been sleeping at the office.

Several years had passed, and she and her team were starting to see promising results, but they couldn’t find anyone to stand behind their work with the needed funds for more research.
And so grant after grant… fell through,
And her work, which was in science, was getting labeled “too radical”,
and too much of a risk financially.
When she was in charge of her own lab,
she had to deal with the sexist culture of colleagues
as they asked to go through her supervisor,
rather than deferring to her authority.

And so… good ‘ol faithful doubt, reared its head like it always does
And tried its hardest to flood her consciousness… as her team unraveled,
And as she herself even got stripped of her position and demoted to the role of a simple researcher.
On top of this, she had just made it through a cancer scare…
and her husband was stuck back in Hungary on a issue with his Visa

She later reflected upon those days by saying—
“I thought of going somewhere else, or doing something else. I also thought maybe I’m not good enough, not smart enough.”

Now notice for a second the subject of those statements
and to whom they assign the blame and responsibility?
It’s me God, not you… right? So often we rationalize our self-rejection

If we think about many of the Old Testament prophets, we’ll hear the familiar refrain of reluctance…
Moses saying that he was not eloquent, Jonah fleeing from God to Tarshish, Jeremiah saying he didn’t know how to speak and that he was a child…

Perhaps even Mary, like any Judean teenager of her day…
had moments of doubt like these
at least somewhere in her life from conception to Calvary
I mean… how on earth could anyone not have doubts about becoming the Mother of God?

But even though doubt has tremendous power
to shift our hope, faith, and trust away from God
and point it to and essentially on ourselves

It cannot in the end, hold us hostage
To the fear that “we’re just not good enough”
Because God doesn’t grace us with visions
To fool or just play with our minds
To get our hopes up just so that we can keep ourselves entertained
with some pipe dream that leads us to nowhere

Heavens no…
visions… and whether they come to a young immigrant mother chasing a passion
or a young Judean teenager saying yes
when she had every reason to give into doubt
perhaps its visions… that hope to give us just a glimpse
into God’s imagination of who we truly are,
rather…than from the tired old veils of doubt
that we might usually grasp at
to see and relate to ourselves

And so perhaps in these final days of Advent,
We can remember that the peace of the Incarnation
Is a peace of realizing just how poor and humble God decided to become, by entering the world
“for nothing will be impossible for God”
Not even flipping the wisdom of the world on its head
Or for a stuffed teddy bear to help smuggle the seed money of a dream

And this is why the vision of the Eucharist
Calls us to far more than just a glimpse of God’s imagination
But to an encounter of God becoming one of us in Christ
For our God is a jealous God, never letting go
Of envisioning a people
that keeps imagining
Keeps hoping
and keeps struggling
to not let doubt within
suffocate the breath of God
that drives within every soul

Sisters and brothers, that young immigrant mother has a name
It’s Katalin Karako, and she’s the biochemist that pioneered the use of mRNA
which was instrumental in developing the COVID-19 vaccine so quickly and effectively
Many are calling for her and her colleague to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

Imagine for a moment, an angel visiting Katalin all those many years ago,
And saying to her…“Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” “Do not be afraid, Kate,
for you have found favor with God.”
For “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow your doubt… for what you will struggle to do
could end up saving millions of your sisters and brothers.

And so…
for every day for over four decades and in her own way
Katalin has tried to live her ‘yes’ like Mary
Despite everything that’s tried to stand in her way
She is living proof of how grace can overshadow impossibility

Indeed, sisters and brothers, visions can sometimes be dangerous
Not because of their seemingly foolish or impossible details,
but because we too often kill them with our doubt

God is still imagining
still giving
Glimpses that overshadow
Our toughest of doubts… within each and every one of us
Preparing the way for the vision of all visions

Note: all details/references to Katalin Karikó sourced from the following articles: STAT | France24 | CNN |The Guardian | Hungarian Free Press

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s