In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1: 39-45)
And the Symphony of Christmas continues to its next movement – the visit by Mary to her cousin Elizabeth.
As we read and reflect on this Gospel of joy and happiness, we need to take in its message of beauty and its declaration of hope.
The year 2020 has exhausted us physically and spiritually. The worldwide pandemic has taken more than lives. It has also changed the way we approach our lives.
In the United States, the meanness of politics has reared its ugly head and, for many, seeks on a daily basis to take joy out of life. Instead of a nation proudly proclaiming the majesty of our shores and the freshness of our liberty, we now proclaim political partisanship and for many invectives. The country now lurches and stumbles down the path of democracy.
Amidst this darkness, two women offer a light of hope, a light of joy, a light that says there is another reality – a reality from which we were created, a reality which holds the true meaning of life, a reality which is within us and which beckons us to our true home.
We continue the Symphony of Christmas with Mary. Around 1030 A.D. Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke these words: “Without God’s Son nothing could exist; without Mary’s son, nothing could be redeemed.” Mary received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. Her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. Hold on to the magnitude of that faith as we listen to this Gospel.
Mary sets out on a treacherous road, crossing Samaria to reach Judea. She isn’t looking for just anyone with whom to share her joy: she’s looking for Elizabeth, she who can truly understand her; a woman that is living an experience similar to her own. There is no deeper experience than having someone that you feel understands you; someone with whom to read back over your past in order to discover how God continually touches your life.
Elizabeth represents the sterility of humanity which is now refreshed by the presence of God in her life. Perhaps Elizabeth, in her silence, has continued to hope. Perhaps she has also experienced that solitude which is the impossibility of sharing her last crumbs of hope with another person. But the last vestiges of her faith and hope prevailed and she was rewarded by the Lord. Hold on to that hope as we listen further to this Gospel.
There is still another with a message. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leaped for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born. Hold on to that joy as we near the end of this Gospel.
Mary’s journey belongs to each of us. Her visit with Elizabeth reminds us of the meaning of faith, of hope and of joy. In fact, the joy that Eve took away has been returned to us by Mary. All of that happened through the grace of God as He sent His Holy Spirit into these two women.
That in dwelling of the Holy Spirit reminds us that we too have been marked by Christ. We too have been filled with the Holy Spirit. It is God’s bond with us that unites us to Him in our salvific destiny. That should bring us joy. The joy that comes from recognizing the presence of Christ, is God’s Christmas gift to us. It is a joy that comes from a faith that tells us that Emmanuel – God is with us – works mercifully in our lives in ways that we can see and ways that we cannot see. No matter if we are suffering or feeling elated, we can learn to recognize Christ’s presence, and feel joy.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me joy in seeking you more earnestly. Increase my faith in all your promises, my hope in the joy of heaven, and my love for You as my All.”
Each of us needs to keep our focus on the roadmap to joy through recognizing the presence of Jesus. Let us live consciously in his presence. Think of him. Listen to him. Talk to him. I pray that you will feel God’s nearness in a special way today, and through this Christmas Season. May His presence guide us to that special place… of happiness and joy, and set us on the pathway that we ultimately seek, the pathway to the kingdom of heaven!