Mary set out
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,
“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.”
This week we will celebrate the glorious, but humble, coming of God among us – Emmanuel – God with us! He comes in such a humble way, to such a humble woman, in such a humble place. No one expected God to come in such a way. Yet that is how God planned it. God showed us that greatness does not come in power, strength and authority, but through humility, simplicity, love and forgiveness.
What are some lessons that we can learn from the readings this weekend (Micah 5:1-4, Psalm 80, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-45)?
1) God chooses the lowly to do great things. Elizabeth was an old, barren woman. Mary was an innocent teenager. David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons and least likely to become king. Bethlehem was a small, insignificant village. Jesus came into the world as a little helpless child. Yet God used all of these people and places to write an amazing salvation story. He chooses you too to play a part in this story.
2) Why did Mary go in “haste” to visit her cousin Elizabeth? She found her God-given purpose in life. She could not wait to share this Good News with Elizabeth. How many of us have found our God-given purpose in life or even look for it? How many of us are only about our personal purpose in life? Jesus and Mary both came to do the will of the Father. When we find God’s will for our lives, we find great energy, joy and fulfillment, even when times are difficult. I have never been more alive since I have found my calling in life. I want to go in “haste” like Mary to everyone to share the Good News.
3) When we encounter Jesus we should celebrate.
a. David, who was from Bethlehem, went to the hill country to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. The Ark contained pieces of the Ten Commandments, the Word of God. And David danced with joy in front of the Ark when he processed into Jerusalem.
b. Mary is the New Ark as she carries the very Word of God in her womb. John the Baptist leaps for joy in His presence. Elizabeth recognizes the Presence and calls Mary and the child “blessed”.
c. In every Catholic church around the world today we have the tabernacle where the Body of Christ is kept. This is the Ark today. And we celebrate Mass in the Presence of our Lord daily. By the way, it is no coincidence that Bethlehem means “House of Bread” and Jesus is the “Bread of Life” born in a feeding trough.
d. And when we receive Communion, we become tabernacles of Jesus. We are called to celebrate that and then go in “haste” to share the Good News with others.
Do I realize that God is calling me to do great things for Him?
Have I found my God-given purpose in this life?
Do I celebrate the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, in one another, in myself?
How are we going to celebrate Christmas this year? Is it scrambling to find the perfect gift? Getting frustrated as we battle traffic, long lines, and hectic shoppers? Or will we take time to reflect on what we are celebrating? Will we take time to pray and ask for God to reveal His will for our lives? Will we thank God for family, friends, health, His presence among us, joy, laughter, children, and even our struggles?
Emmanuel, God is with us! Come let us adore Him!