O Antiphon: O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all peoples, come and set us free, Lord our God.

Scripture: Lectionary 12. Fourth Sunday of Advent, Dec.23. Micah 5:1-4. Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19. Hebrews 10:5-10. Luke 1:39-45:

4th Sunday of Advent 4th Sunday of Advent

Advent comes to a close with the beautiful narrative of the Visitation. Two blessed women rejoice in their motherhood, Elizabeth and Mary. The birth of each child today is a miracle, but some births are so miraculous that they astound us. They need to live on in our remembering the names of the holy women of the Bible who had divine intervention and the power of God, the Holy Spirit, enabling them to give birth thought their nature and status did not permit this. This is the case of Hanna, the mother of Samson, and in the New Testament, Mary and Elizabeth (a virgin, a barren woman).

The births of John the Baptist and Jesus are foretold in this meeting of Mary and Elizabeth. Their stories are shared by their mothers before they are born and the babies within them are rejoicing as precursor and messiah. Mary made great efforts to go outside her home to the hill country to visit Elizabeth in haste, careful haste.

Elizabeth seeks seclusion in her home at Ain Karem. Mary journeys from Nazareth and then returns there. Interior and exterior actions of the mothers to be dance, while the children within them acknowledge one another.

St. Ambrose is probably the best spiritual interpreter of the early chapters of Luke’s Gospel. It is he who gives us Mary as a model for our spiritual life. I was struck by this paragraph of his among many other paragraphs: “Notice the contrast and choice of words. Elizabeth is the first to hear Mary’s voice, but John is the first to be aware of grace. She hears with the ears of the body, but he leaps at the meaning of the mystery. She is aware of Mary’s presence, but he is aware of the Lord’s: a woman aware of a woman’s presence, the forerunner aware of the pledge of salvation. The women speak of the grace they have received, while the children are active in secret, unfolding the mystery of love with the help of their mothers, who prophesy by the spirit of their sons.” And our hearts and voices proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby