We have arrived at the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the last Sunday before we celebrate the Solemnity of the Lord’s Nativity. The Church invites us to bring to a climax our spiritual preparation for the celebration of Christmas. What better way is there to prepare than learning from Mary’s example of selflessness and practical charity.
The Gospel of Luke presents to us the post-annunciation encounter between Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth. The Virgin Mother had just responded positively to God’s request to have her conceive and bear God’s Son. As a sign of God’s faithfulness, she was informed that Elizabeth, whom people called barren, was already in her sixth month of pregnancy. In spite of her own condition and needs, Mary set out to visit Elizabeth in order to share in her joy and lend a helping hand. We do not need to be without problems of our own in order to understand and respond to the needs and feelings of others. Our ministry of presence can be more valuable to some than coins. To sincerely rejoice with others and selflessly respond to the legitimate worries, needs and feelings of others, in spite of our own imperfect situation, is the best way to give flesh to the Spirit of Christmas.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greetings, John the Baptist leapt for joy in her womb. The Virgin Mother became more than the bearer of the Son of God; She became a mobile carrier of the Holy Spirit and John the Baptist recognized the Redeemer while both were still in their respective mothers’ wombs. Every child in the womb is a human person clearly distinct from their mother from the moment of conception, open to God’s blessings and Spirit, as we all are, and should have their right to life and common human dignity respected.
There is also a lesson to be learned from Elizabeth’s response to Mary’s selfless visitation. We are all uniquely blessed by God who is at liberty to distribute His gifts as He pleases. Elizabeth, who was obviously older than Mary, did not have a problem referring to her as “the Mother of my Lord” and even wondered why she was honored with her visit. Envy of another’s temporal or spiritual gifts is the easiest way to open a window in our hearts for evil to enter. Contentment and the realization that we are all wonderfully made, uniquely blessed and graciously endowed, is a sure route to grateful and peaceful living.
This Christmas, may God’s Spirit activate in us the ministry of presence so we can share with others the joy of Christ’s birth in spite of our own imperfect conditions. May the Virgin Mother obtain for us the grace of joy and contentment, and may we experience the transformative Joy of Christmas.
Please be kind and may God bless you.BACK TO LIST