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When Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth asks her a question. It is not the question I would have asked had I been Elizabeth. My question would have been something like this. “How did you know that I needed you to come and help me? How did you know I was expecting a child? My husband didn’t tell anyone because the angel struck him mute. He didn’t believe what God’s messenger told him. I went into seclusion due to my old age so I didn’t say anything.” I would have been rather surprised had I saw Mary walk in and greet her cousin. I would have asked, “What is she doing here? “When Mary walked in and greeted her cousin, I would have been rather surprised. “What is “she” doing here?” But the reason why she did not ask that question is because there was an even bigger surprise.
Imagine all these years not being able to give her husband an heir, the public shame of that, not able to hold your own baby or a son or daughter to carry on the name and legacy of your family. Then, out of nowhere, against every odd, you have a child. Not only a child but a prophet who just informed you that you are standing on holy ground; not only that, but someone is there to help you. In addition to this, you are in the presence of God. There is piling up of gifts, and surprises and joy. So Elizabeth askes the question, “Why?” All this goodness. Why is God so good to me? Mary answered her question. Saying, “I too, am experiencing a piling of grace, and gifts. God loves to lift up the lowly.”
One day I picked up my friend and mentor, who had taught me how to fly fish. We drove to a lake to fish. We got out of the car and looked over the water. The day was beautiful – a blue cobalt sky, a gentle breeze, flowers along the shoreline. We stood there for a moment gazing into the horizon. Then, he said to me,” Peter, I am the richest man in the world.” I thought to myself, “What the heck is he talking about? He doesn’t have a penny in his pocket. I had to buy him lunch. He has fourth-stage lung cancer, and he lost all his hair due to chemotherapy. The doctors have given him six months.”
We split up and I had just begun to fish when I heard him say “Peter, Peter, quick; come here.” He called my name with such intensity that I thought he was drowning or he had landed a seven-pound trout. Finally, he said, “Peter, look!” He was holding up a four-inch fish. I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. He said, “Peter, it’s a small mouth.” I thought to myself, “Here is a guy who has caught every fish in the ocean on dry flies. He has traveled all over the world catching many large fish. He wrote books and articles on fly fishing. How is it possible that he still gets excited about a little fish?” And that is why my friend is the richest man in the world. Jack loves and appreciates everything God gives him.
There you are at the end of the day. You used your feet and your hands. You saw with your eyes and heard with your ears. You may have received a Christmas card from an old friend, got a call, ate a nice meal. You saw the sunset, and now at the end of the day, all these wonderful things have piled up on you. So many good things, so you ask the question, “Why? Why is God so good to me?” If this is your last thought of the day, then, know this–you are the richest person in the world.Back to All Homilies