Professor of Church History
Divine Word Seminary
Reading 1: Sgs 2:8-14
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21
R. (1a; 3a) Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Gospel: Lk 1:39-45
Mary’s visit with her kinswoman Elizabeth is a comment on the joyful spirit of Christmas. The Mother of God adds something more: traveling in haste along the idyllic hill country that is Judea, “springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills” (Songs 2:8). A beautiful Advent picture of Mary and of God’s constant interventions as the season ushers in the wonderful mystery of Christmas. A visit always brings joy, and a visit with relatives brings exhilarating joy. Mary’s concern for an expecting mother in Elizabeth goes beyond the call of charity into the realm of the divine. The infants Jesus and John are the center of the visitation. Mary’s visit offers the opportunity to link the firstborns – a premonition of their future roles. The tale of the visit is Med with an aura of God’s pervading presence. These two households represent the meeting of the two covenants, Elizabeth greets Mary as “most blessed among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb” – meaning to say, highly favored among women because of Christ her son. Mary is no ordinary woman and the “fruit of her womb” no ordinary baby, It is the faith of Mary that is singled out by Elizabeth. The infant in Elizabeth’s womb acknowledges this and “leaped for joy” in her womb. The event depicts a glad welcome; more importantly, it confirms the fulfillment of what the Lord told Mary. Great joy, great welcome!
The event is a master plan of the Holy Spirit that finds completion in the faith of the two privileged mothers. The mystery of the incarnation takes on human flesh through them. The Holy Spirit hovers over a happy gathering of relatives. The unusual incident goes back to the angel’s words to Zechariah: “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” (Lk 1:15). The messianic leap of the infant John and Elizabeth’s utterances announce the fulfillment of the Holy Spirit’s interventions. Mary’s journey is a personal decision but equally she is directed by the Spirit. Like their mothers, the infants Jesus and John recognized each other. In her address to Mary, “The Mother of my Lord” Elizabeth and John acknowledge the superiority of Mary and Jesus even as the latter in turn pay the visit to the inferior.While Christ’s incarnation results in the redemption of us all, it is really the glory of God and His love that moves him to share with humankind. Because of our saved humanity heaven has been opened for us. There’s something apostolic and missionary in Mary’s visit with Elizabeth. Something beautiful and good (Christ) must be shared with others.
Christianity is a religion of joy, and the birth of Christ more than illustrates it. Joy is characteristic of Christmas, and, in the Philippines, family reunions tell that.
As we visit relatives, let us bring Jesus, the reason of it all. Mary’s visit with Elizabeth bears an apostolic and missionary mark: Christ always has something to communicate. Visiting the sick, the poor and the oppressed might not relieve them of their needs but would bring them the joy of the Lord.