Today was my turn to be principal celebrant at Mass. Whenever my turn comes around I think first of Zechariah taking his turn in the Temple, and then of the little bits of paper you get when you 'take a number' here in Italy. (In Italy you're always taking a number.) The little thing has your number on it and written below is, è il mio turno. 'Is my turn.' There's something so cute and innocent about it, as if you were playing Uno or Monopoly insteading of waiting to attempt some arcane bureaucratic procedure in a foreign language. And once in a while it even turns out to be true, i.e. you succeed in taking your turn according to the number.
I was trying to think of something very short for a homily, such that I might have a chance to actually deliver it in Italian, but also because short is pleasing to the brethren.
It struck me as interesting that in this time of Advent, when we focus on the coming of Jesus Christ, when we are often praying in the words of St. John at the very end of the New Testament--Come, Lord Jesus!--in the gospel today (Matthew 11:28-30), it is rather Jesus who says, "Come to me."
It reminds us that we hope for the coming of Jesus Christ, that we are able to pray, Come, Lord Jesus, only because God has already given us his Spirit who prays within us.
But that's more than just a clever, pious thought. The whole mystery of Christmas is in it.
It is the Spirit who conceives the Word as the historical life of Jesus of Nazareth.
In the same way, the Spirit, whom we have received by the water of baptism and the blood of the Eucharist that flowed together from the opened side of Christ crucified, wills to conceive the presence of Christ in our humanity.
When we find ourselves praying, Come, Lord Jesus, this is, in fact, an experience of the Holy Spirit praying within us, working to accomplish in our humanity the mystery of the Annunciation. The whole dialogue of the Annunciation occurs within our own prayer, or, it could also be said, between the desire of our heart and the Spirit praying within us, such that our Christmas task becomes a simple making of our own the assent of Mary, Let it be done to me according to your word, that we may begin to nurture the Word conceived in us. In God's time, we will bring him to birth in the places, situations, and relationships of our lives.