4th Week of Advent
1st Reading: Sng 2:8-14 or Zep 3:14-18a
Hark! my lover–here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Here he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices. My lover speaks; he says to me, “Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come! “For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come, and the song of the dove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance. Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come! “O my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the secret recesses of the cliff, Let me see you, let me hear your voice, For your voice is sweet, and you are lovely.”
Gospel: Lk 1:39-45
Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
WELCOMING THE SON OF GOD: In African traditions, the news of expectation of a baby are always met with great joy. Mary, having received the news from the Angel that she will be the mother of God, and that her kinswoman Elizabeth had conceived in her old age, went with haste, filled with joy, to share the good news and to witness the great miracle that God had done to Elizabeth. Upon encountering Mary, Elizabeth receives another great gift of God; it is revealed to her about Mary’s conception of the Son of God, and she receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth welcomed Mary and cried out with a loud voice because the saviour was on the way coming to save humanity. By welcoming Mary, she was welcoming the divine Son of God. A person who truly accepts Mary as the mother of Jesus the saviour welcomes Jesus as well.
Prayer: Mary, mother of our saviour, intercede for us.
HAPPY MOTHER FOR A HAPPY SOCIETY: Experiments have proved that a foetus in the womb, constantly receives messages from its mother. It also gets chemical signals through the placenta about joy, sorrow and other emotional and mental states of the mother. It is a fact that the greetings of Mary made Elizabeth happy, which in turn made the child in the womb leap for joy. The happiness of a mother is a necessity for a happy society. The ceremony of baby shower in many cultures is intended to make the expectant mother happy. Among ourselves, we should help and respect expectant mothers so as to make the baby happy in the womb. Also, the expectant mother has to engage in serving others as Mary went in haste to help Elizabeth.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, make me a helper of expectant mothers.
CALLED TO SET THE WORLD ABLAZE: Zephania sings a song of joy. A reassurance par excellence is offered. Because “The king of Israel is in your midst” (Zep 3: 17). When the king makes his presence, it cannot be anything else: just celebration. It signifies a time of festivity, a period of celebration and a time to brush away memories of sadness and pain. At Mary’s visit, the atmosphere resounds with certain blessedness. Elizabeth, who until now was aloof and downcast breaks into an exclamation. “Blessed are you, Blessed is the fruit of your womb and the mother of my Lord comes to me”. The joy is contagious. Mary ‘infuses’ the Holy Spirit into the baby in the womb of Elizabeth. Where do I stand as a Christian? Equipped with Holy Spirit at Confirmation, do I fortify the other with my words, my interactions? How far am I capable of passing on a positive energy, a healthy vibe onto the other? Let our words go to build and affirm persons and pass on blessedness with our presence.
THE ENCOUNTER OF TWO WOMEN WHO HAD EXPERIENCED GOD: Mary had a special and intimate encounter with God at the annunciation. She desires to share that with someone – more experienced than her. She goes to greet Elizabeth, in whose life also God had worked in a special way. The two women meet. Elizabeth gives feedback to Mary: Blessed are you who believed… At this, Mary’s own experience of God becomes even deepened. Mary begins to sing her “Magnificat”- the gospel reading of tomorrow. This is what happens in the context of spiritual accompaniment or direction. Spiritual accompaniment is not a moment for the one who listens to you to give you advice, but just feedback. In that process your own experience becomes deep. We should not be shy of sharing our spiritual experiences, because, in that sharing our experiences become deeper.