A Reflection on the Fourth Sunday in Advent, December 19, 2021
Reading I: Micah 5:1-4a
Responsorial Psalm: 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
Reading II: Hebrews 10:5-10
Gospel: Luke 1:39-45
We are approaching the final Sunday of Advent; the time of preparation is quickly waning, and soon, we will be at the threshold of celebrating the Christmas mystery, the mystery of God becoming human.
This Sunday, we are presented with the Gospel story of the young pregnant Mary of Nazareth. She has traveled in haste to the hill country of Judea, some eighty miles to the south from her hometown of Nazareth. She intends to be with her older cousin Elizabeth, the one who was called barren, but now in her old age has been blessed by God with pregnancy also.
This story paints a beautiful scene of Mary and Elizabeth greeting one another. Two expectant mothers share an embrace, not only an embrace of each other but an extraordinary and holy embrace by God. We see the lives of both women have been transformed through the power of God’s spirit.
We are told of what happened between the child in Mary’s womb and the child in Elizabeth’s womb, and this was a divine encounter. This is exactly what the psalmist described as: “When love and faithfulness meet, when justice and truth meet; righteousness and peace embrace each other” (Ps 85, 10). Elizabeth and Mary experienced this.
We realize that the visit of Mary to Elizabeth was not just a mere coincidence, and it is part of the well-thought-out plan of God and executed at the appropriate time. God continues to work out His plan and, in this season, God has plans to honor each of us personally with a divine visit.
We are about to experience a divine encounter with the Christmas mystery, the child Jesus. This encounter will fill us with the Holy Spirit, and he will empower us as he empowered Elizabeth. This divine encounter with Christ is meant to bring us transformation, not around us but in us. It will provoke peace and greater joy in our hearts as it did for Elizabeth and the child in her womb.
This transformation is not stagnant. Just as Mary went out of her way, we too are called to share our transformation with others around us no matter the difficulty of the journey before us.
The transformation brought about by the Christmas mystery is the power of love, compassion, mercy, and friendship to those around us. Just as John the Baptist recognized the presence of Jesus in the womb of Mary and was filled with joy, others around us will be able to recognize the transformative power of the Christmas mystery within us and also be filled with joy.
So, as we contemplate this last week of Advent, let us continue to prepare; let us be as hospitable, generous, humble, and loving as Mary was to Elizabeth. Most of all, let us be open to the transformative power of the Christmas mystery and share that mystery with others.
Reference: “Visitation of the BVM” by Lawrence OP is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0