Monday of the fourth week of Advent, 2022

    December 19, 2022

    How might you have walked with them in their time of barrenness?

    I wrote a whole reflection before this one. I even threw in a few jokes and was pretty proud of it. However, every time I went back to edit it, I kept coming back to this one question I threw in near the end:

    “How might you have walked with Elizabeth and Zechariah in their time of barrenness?”

    Often in social service we feel like we exist to solve problems. We work to end hunger, build housing and advocate for those in need. But we don’t always reflect on the lives and struggles of our clients before they reached out for help.

    Elizabeth and Zechariah lived many years together, long before the Gospel of Luke starts their story. It’s easy to jump in and see the hope brought with Gabriel’s announcement but forget the years of loneliness they must have experienced.

    Following the Annunciation and Visitation, we hear of Elizabeth’s neighbors and relatives rejoicing with her at John’s birth. Were they also there during her solitude? Did they listen as her heart broke for every year she was without child? Who was there to support them during their infertility?

    We are surrounded by individuals experiencing barrenness. It could be an absent parent or a forced departure from a homeland. There is an immense emptiness caused by chronic mental health challenges. As we serve others, we hear may the same words of Zechariah, “how can I know things will get better?” Before running in to solve the problem, try pausing to listen and support those we are serving.

    Ask yourself each day, “How might I walk with those around me in their time of barrenness?

    Devyn Buschow is the Parish Relations Program Manager at Catholic Charities Dallas.

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