4th Sunday of Advent

I’ve always loved riding a bike, so when I came to Elgin over two years ago I bought a bicycle immediately. As I started exploring places further from Elgin I stopped using my bike – I didn’t have a bike carrier. A few weeks ago I decided to buy one. I was looking for it in the internet and finally I found one set, thirty per cent cheaper than in a local store. The offer looked very promising: two or three business days delivery, free within UK mainland. So, I ordered the item. In the meantime I dusted down my bike, pumped up the tyres – and made the bike ready for use again. Two weeks passed by, my bike’s been covered with dust, but I’ve been waiting for the delivery. In the meantime winter has come and it is likely I will not be able to use my bike for the few next months. The retailer’s promise has not been redeemed. Maybe I should order a ski carrier?

A promise concerns the future. A promise is an announcement of future benefit. We find promises in business transactions, we find promises in personal relationships, we find promises in almost every aspect of our lives. Sometimes a promise is clearly expressed by words or signs; sometimes a promise is ambiguously suggested; but sometimes a promise appears as wishful thinking without real purpose. A promise is inseparably associated with trust: I believe that somebody is going to redeem his or her promise. We don’t trust everybody unconditionally; we look for opinions of other people, we look for advice, we try to find out more. We do all these things to ensure ourselves that a person giving a promise is trustful.

In today’s gospel we look at the encounter of Mary and Elizabeth – two women whose trust was tested. The older one, Elizabeth, had been barren for years and had no prospect of having a child. In her own opinion she was too old. Mary was the opposite: she was very young, had had no baby yet. The angel Gabriel’s announcement for her was equally troublesome as for Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah. Both promises: one about John the Baptist regarding Elizabeth and the other about Jesus regarding Mary were apparently impossible. But both promises were redeemed. Impossible became possible thanks to God, who gave the promise and to women’s trust to him.

God’s promises are not exclusive, just for a few chosen people. He has an offer for everybody: for you and for me. He needs only one thing from us: our trust.