Thursday 30 October 2014

19 December - Season of Advent

For some couples, a pregnancy is a joyful and hopeful experience. People enthusiastically and excitedly begin to make plans and preparations to welcome a new member of the family. Some people begin to make changes to their life style, hoping that their efforts would enable their newborn to be healthy and grow well. Advances in medicine have improved the mortality rate of foetuses and infants and the journey from pregnancy to birth has become less difficult or stressful for many.

However, not all couples are fortunate. Some, for some reason or another, have been found to be infertile. The word used in today's reading and Gospel is "barren." Nowadays, being barren in many societies is no longer a stigma or issue. People in these societies have moved on in their thinking and adoption is a possible and acceptable alternative. However, there are still some societies that view being barren as a great embarrassment or a punishment from the divine. Being barren in such societies was seen as grounds for a divorce (such societies usually put the blame on the woman), and in some cases, the woman was badly treated, shunned or became a source of ridicule and gossip. In some situations, to protect the family honour or to ensure a continuation of the family linage, the woman could be expelled from the house or even from the village; and the man is free and even encouraged to look for another wife.

In today's reading, we come across Manoah and his wife who was barren. In today's Gospel, we also come across Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth who was barren. Even though these couples had suffered much due to being barren; even though they suffered much embarrassment and were a source of gossip and ridicule; they chose to stayed on with each other, bore the burden together, and were faithful to each other. God did not abandon them and gave them a precious gift of two babies, Samson and John the Baptist, who later carried out great deeds for the greater glory of God.

If God can do wonders for these couples and cast away their shame, just imagine what He can do for us today. Let us not feel down or embarrassed but remain faithful and hopeful, knowing that God will help us and not abandon us.

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