4th Sunday of Advent
Reading I: Mic 5:1-4
II: Heb 10:5-10
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah,
40 and she entered the house of Zechari'ah and greeted Elizabeth.
41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.
45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
This passage is the story of visitation, which is preceded by two annunciations: the annunciation to Zechariah of the birth of John the Baptist by the aged Elizabeth and the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary a virgin mother.
(v.39) The trip from Galilee where Mary lived to a village in Judea where her relative Elizabeth lived would take four days of traveling. If a fourteen-year-old Jewish virgin girl like Mary made that trip alone in the male dominated society, she would be subject to charges of shameful intentions and misconduct.
Luke possibly did not intent to present Mary as a model of charity because in v.56 Mary departed from Elizabeth at the moment of her greatest need, the childbirth.
Luke's intent is literary and theological, he brings together two mothers-to-be to show how both recognize and praise the God who is active in their lives.
(v.41) The "leaping" of John in Elizabeth's womb alludes to the leaping of Esau and Jacob in Rebekah's womb (Gen 25:22), which foretold their later destinies.
(v.43) Even before his birth, Jesus is first identified as "Lord," which is properly used as a resurrection title.
One Main Point
Mary is the first Christian in the New Testament because she believed in the promises that God made to her, she has total trust in God. Like Mary, blessed are those who believe in God's promises.
Recall a moment of joy and happiness when God is part of your life. Compare this moment to the joy and pride of a mother-to-be when she experiences baby kicks in her womb. Can you feel the exultation of Mary and Elizabeth?
Slowly recite the "Hail Mary" word by word, and imagine that you were Elizabeth and you are greeting young Mary. What do you see in her face, in her gesture? What will you say?
Many people in this world are lonely; they need someone to talk to. Do you ever visit those in hospital, in nursing home or in prison? If you do visit a friend or a relative, what is your intention?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community