Advent and Christmas - Week 04c

Fourth Sunday of Advent

(From Conversation with God, Fernandez Carvajal)

Shortly after the Annunciation, Our Lady went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who lived in the hill country of Judea, about four or five days' journey from Nazareth. In those days, says St Luke, Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah. The Blessed Virgin, having learned from the angel about Elizabeth's pregnancy, moved by charity, hurries to lend a hand with her household chores. Nobody obliges her to go: God, through the angel, hadn't asked her to do so, nor had Elizabeth looked for help either. Mary could have remained at home to get on with preparing for the arrival of her Son, the Messiah; but she joyfully sets out on the journey 'with haste' and goes to offer Elizabeth her homely assistance.

It is easy to imagine the great joy that filled Our Mother's heart and the great desire she had to share it. Behold; your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, the angel told her, and gave Mary to understand that Elizabeth's conception was truly extraordinary and was also connected in some way with the Messiah who was to come. After her long journey, Our Lady entered Zachary's house and greeted her cousin. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. That house was transformed by the presence of Jesus and Mary. Her greeting was efficacious: it filled Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit With her tongue, through her prophetic utterance, she caused a river of divine gifts to spring up in her cousin as from a fountain. In effect, wherever she who is 'full of grace' goes, everything is filled to overflowing with joy. This wonderful effect is worked by Jesus through Mary, who right from the beginning is associated with the Redemption and the joy that Christ brings to the world.

The Visitation reveals to us one aspect of Mary's interior life, namely, her disposition of humble service and selfless love for whoever needs her help. This event, which we contemplate in the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, invites us to give ourselves promptly, happily and unpretentiously to the people around us. Very often the best service we can offer is simply to share with them the happiness that overflows from our hearts. But we can only do this if we stay very close to Our Lord through the faithful fulfilment of the moments of prayer we have throughout the day. Union with God, supernatural virtue, always brings with it the attractive practice of human virtues: Mary brought joy to her cousin's home, because she 'brought' Christ. Do we 'bring' Christ with us, and with him joy, wherever we go, be it to work, or when visiting friends or someone who is sick? Does our presence habitually cause people to be cheered up?

At Mary's arrival Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaims in a loud voice: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this grunted 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. Elizabeth does not just call her blessed, but also explains why: it is because of the fruit of her womb, her Son who is blessed for ever. Just think of all the times we too repeat the same words whenever we say the Hail Mary: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!