4th Sunday of Advent, Year C
Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
December 20, 2015
Today we hear the story of Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth. To understand the context of the story we first need to realize that this story happens immediately after the Annunciation where the Angel Gabriel told Mary she was to be the mother of Jesus.
Mary could have said no. She didn’t. Mary could have been prideful for becoming the mother of Jesus. She wasn’t.
What did Mary do?
At the same time the angel Gabriel told Mary she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus, Gabriel also told Mary that Elizabeth was also with child.
In response to this, Mary goes to Elizabeth so that they might share their joy together.
The conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb is clearly a miracle because she had had no relations with a man. Elizabeth’s pregnancy was also an act of God. Elizabeth was advanced in years and had never had any children. The conception of John the Baptist had been announced to Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, by an angel.
So Elizabeth was likely ecstatic to finally have the child she had longed for. When Mary comes to her, Mary would not have looked pregnant since Jesus’ conception just happened. When Elizabeth saw Mary, she could have spoken about the joy of her own pregnancy. She did not. Her reaction, as well as the reaction of John in her womb, was to be joyous that the mother of her Lord had come to her.
Mary showed great faith when she said Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word. Elizabeth showed a great faith in recognizing Jesus in Mary’s womb.
Both became pregnant through the hand of God. Both had been chosen by God for this role. Why did God choose them? Because God knew the faith they had in their hearts. God knew the concern they had in their hearts for others.
Because of their faith, good things happened. John the Baptist comes to prepare the way of the Lord so that Jesus can come to save us.
Often, seeing a baby brings joy to people’s hearts.
We see new life and that helps us see the possibility of good things to come.
In just a few days at Christmas we will see Jesus laying in a manger as a little baby. Our hearts will smile but not just for a moment while we look at baby Jesus. When we see baby Jesus we see hope in one who comes to save us. Jesus will do miracles to reveal his identity as Son of God. Jesus will teach to help us know God’s ways. And, Jesus will die for us and rise, showing us the way to the Father. When we see Jesus, we see hope and we have joy.
Come Christmas, we will likely see people here for Mass that we seldom see otherwise. There is a special joy about this season that permeates hearts in a way to draw people in. This is a good thing.
You may see people here that you know but never realized they were Catholic. You may see people you know that fell away from the church and didn’t live a “good life.” You might be surprised to see them. You might even be shocked to see them here.
What is the proper response? Well, let me tell you, it doesn’t begin with “What are you doing here?” We want them here. I would suggest our response should begin with, “Merry Christmas, we are glad you are here.”
We want them to feel welcome. We want them to know we would love to have them here each Sunday. To help us do this, we are working to have greeters at every door at every Mass as people arrive.
That much being said, it isn’t enough just to welcome them at the door. Even if you aren’t a greeter at the door, we need your help. You will be the ones sitting next to them in the pews. Help them to feel welcome. Help them to know we care for them just as Mary and Elizabeth cared for each other. Help them to know the joy of Christmas.