We’ve come to the last “moment” of waiting for our guest! Having renewed our sight in order to see well the signs of the times, having reinforced the foundation on which we base our life, and having reflected on how we can give time to others…one a quick glance at ourselves for the last little touches and we’re there! With our most welcoming smile, let us open the door: our guest has arrived!
The Gospel of the fourth week of Advent (Luke 1:39-45)
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
1. Work in Progress
“Mary got up and went in haste….” Did Mary go to her cousin Elizabeth to tell her the shocking news of her own motherhood, or to check and see if what the angel had told her about Elizabeth was true or “fake news”? Even in a moment not easily comprehended for her, this young woman did not turn in on herself, but set out with enthusiasm and decisiveness on a tiring journey from the north to the south (from Nazareth to Ain-Karim, not very far from Jerusalem, it is more than 60 miles and of course trains and buses did not exist at that time!). The newness of her divine motherhood transforms her in the depths of her being and makes her put herself immediately at her cousin’s disposition.
The Lord by now is at the door and sometimes we are prisoners of our own indecision, our slowness, our lack of will to get involved for the sake of others. Let us decide. Let us give a last glance at our “house” to make sure that everything is clean and in order. Let us make sure that the food is ready, that the decorations are in place, and maybe take away anything that seems to be too much or too excessive.
“As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting….” The greeting is the first sign of welcome that one person gives to another. Elizabeth represents the Old Testament that is about to come to an end; Mary represents the New. The Old Testament welcomes the New with gratitude and trust, recognizing in it the gratuitous gift of God that comes to fulfill and complete the expectations of his people. Two women, two mothers, two generations…. But there is more. The encounter between these two women shows forth the Spirit’s gift, which is always joy. Here yet again silence is what prevails: it is the gestures, not the words, that are important. The presence of God manifests itself in the little things of every day. For example, leaving space on the coat rack at the entrance of our house for our guests’ coats…even this little gesture is a sign of welcome.
What will you take away this week?
2. Preparing the Feast
“Blessed is she who believed….” This is Elizabeth’s praise for Mary and it is a message for all of us: to believe in the Word of God, because the Word of God has the power to carry out everything that it says. It is the Word that generates new life in the Virgin’s womb, in the womb of the one who welcomes it with faith. Our guest by now is visible when we look out the window: let us prepare to open the door and turn on the lights that testify to our faith even in the darkest nights of our existence. Mary and Elizabeth already knew each other, they were relatives, but in their encounter they discover a mystery that makes them overflow with joy. In our daily life we encounter people that surprise us with the wisdom that they possess or with the witness of faith that they give. We too can live a Christian life with a joy that is contagious.
“Blessed are you among women.” This joy becomes Elizabeth’s blessing for Mary, which is God’s blessing, his project of love and of mercy toward every creature that dares to trust in him. This blessing is for every woman of every time. Let us make every word among us a word of blessing. Let us make the effort to “speak well” (blessing literally means “to speak well”!) of those who are at our side, of those who work or study with us. Let us try to notice the positive in each person in order to sow good seed or to be mediators of peace and reconciliation. Let us make ourselves and our time available to the Awaited Guest, waiting to seat ourselves at table with him. In this way we will truly have a Merry Christmas!
What will you prepare this week?
3. Whispered Words
O Jesus, dear friend, by now Christmas is at the door and you are here. Give me a little crumb of Mary’s faith in order to live the difficulties of my daily life with courage. Help me always to witness with wonder to the joy of knowing that you are my Father and that you take care of me as I am. This will be my way of saying thank you because you have filled me with your blessings and you made yourself human for me, for us, for everyone. Amen.
(Translated and adapted from the Vocation Team of the Daughters of St. Paul in Italy: http://www.paoline.it/blog/giovani).