Today we encounter two people in our Gospel Reading: two expectant mothers. Elizabeth is too old and has been childless for a long time and Mary is almost too young and not married. Elizabeth has a lot of history behind her; Mary has a lot of history ahead of her. The Blessed Virgin Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth in the hill country of Judah. Mary’s greeting sets off a chain reaction. The six-month old John leaps with joy in his mother womb and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth cries out a blessing on the young pregnant Mary.
Elizabeth is overcome with a sense of unworthiness that the mother of the Lord should be visiting her. The response of the young Mary is contained in what is referred to as the Magnificat – a great song acknowledging the mighty deeds of God. Mary is honored, praised, and exalted because of her Son Jesus Christ. She has been graced, and specially prepared for the sake of the one who was to be born of her. What can we learn from our Gospel Reading for this fourth Sunday of Advent?
The first lesson is the preparedness of Mary to extend a helping hand to an aged relative. The Angel only informed Mary about what the Lord in his mercy and graciousness had done for her cousin Elizabeth. Mary could not sit down and watch the old woman go through all the difficulties and challenges that come with childbearing. Luke the Evangelist relates that Mary “arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:39-40). We all need a type of Mary in our life: we need someone who will discover our needs before we voice them out. Someone who will always come in haste and help us when we need help most.
As we heard from our Gospel “As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41). Words are some of the most powerful tools available to Human Beings. Words can potentially both empower and destroy; they can make and unmake us. We need to taste our words before we spit them out. The words of Mary brought excitement and joy into the life of Elizabeth. In life we all need a kind of Mary who will bring us joy and lift up our downtrodden spirit. A kind of Mary who will speak to our hearts and ignite our passion and our sense of responsibility. We need someone whose voice will fill our inner void, and the vacuum of hopelessness that create anxiety and apprehension.
We also need a Mary whose presence will lighten the burdens we carry, someone whose presence will bring us back on track so that we can live out our dreams and aspirations. How do we assess our words? How do you describe the words that come out of your mouth? Do they heal or hurt, do they promote peace and harmony, and do they build or destroy? Do they empower or discourage other people?
A Knights Duty – Pray without Ceasing
Mary did not only visit the family of Zachariah to offer them support. Her journey to the hill country of Judah was an act of Evangelization. She brought Jesus into the family of Elizabeth and Zachariah. We have all been called by the Lord and sent out into the world as Missionary Animators and credible Evangelizers. We have been entrusted with the message of hope, peace, love, and life. Our core mandate is to use our talents in bringing Jesus to as many people as possible.
The message moves when we move. Mary, the first Evangelist in the New Testament, carried the Lord from Nazareth to the hill country of Judah. We need someone who will bring us Jesus, the King of peace, the Saviour of humankind, the light of the world, the shepherd of our souls. We need kind people like Mary who will share our joys and sorrows, not those who will leak our secrets, gossip about us, discourage us, bring us trouble, and freeze our dreams.
If Mary ever became a good mother, a faithful disciple, and a companion to the Apostles, it was probably due to the advice of the aged Elizabeth. Our world needs people like Elizabeth and Mary. May the Lord therefore bless us with more “Elizabeths” and more “Marys” in our troubled world. Amen!