for Sunday, December 19, 2021
In the Gospel of Luke the Christmas story begins with two women,
Mary and Elizabeth. Today we are presented with these women. One,
Mary, is a young girl, perhaps around 16. The other, Elizabeth, is an
older lady, perhaps in her fifties. Both are pregnant. The first, Mary, has
the Son of God within her. The second, Elizabeth, carries John the
Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets and the first of the New
Testament prophets. Both pregnancies were announced by the angel
Gabriel. When Mary hears about Elizabeth's pregnancy she takes a
journey to the hill country to meet her kinswoman. When they meet,
today's Gospel, Elizabeth feels the baby within her stirring. Some of the
spiritual writers feel that this is the first time that John pointed to Jesus.
Years later, thirty years later, John the Baptist would point to Jesus and
say, "Behold the Lamb of God."
Mary and Elizabeth were women of courage and women of faith. It
took tremendous courage for Mary to allow the will of God to take place
within her. She had to hope that Joseph would still accept her as his wife
and care for her and the baby. She had to put up with the wagging
tongues of her neighbors who did the math and were certain that Joseph
could not have been the father. Elizabeth also had to be a woman of
courage. To become pregnant at her age was a wonderful surprise, but
would she survive childbirth?
Today's Gospel does not convey fear. Instead it presents
excitement. Mary and Elizabeth were bursting with excitement. After all,
there was a miraculous element to both pregnancies. Perhaps, Mary
traveled to Elizabeth because she knew she would find someone who
could understand her deep joy. Only Mary and Elizabeth could
understand what is was like to be chosen by God for his mission. Only
Mary and Elizabeth could understand what joy they had not just to have a
child within themselves, but a special child. They needed to share their
joy with each other. They needed each other's care and support.
That is why we come to Church every Sunday. That is why we
receive communion. We need to be united spiritually and physically to our
faith community. We need each other's support.
The meeting of Elizabeth and Mary is the pointing of the Old
Testament to the New, the revelation of the Messiah to the people longing
for a transformation. It is the message that those who have been chosen
to make the Lord present in the world must, like Mary, say yes to God's
plans. For God works His wonders in those who trust in Him.
The Lord was with Mary and the Lord is with us. We need to call
upon Mary to help protect and nurture the Presence of Christ within us.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Micah 5.2-5a
Second Reading: Hebrews 10.5-10
Gospel: Luke 1.39-45
This material is used with permission of its author, Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino, Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL. Visit his
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