Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Luke 1:39-45

Friends, today’s Gospel tells the marvelous story of the Visitation. At the Annunciation, the angel had told Mary that the child to be conceived in her would be the new David. With that magnificent prophecy still ringing in her ears, Mary set out to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was married to Zechariah, a temple priest.

No first-century Jew would have missed the significance of their residence being in “the hill country” of Judah. That was precisely where David found the ark, the bearer of God’s presence. To that same hill country now comes Mary, the definitive and final Ark of
the Covenant.

Elizabeth is the first to proclaim the fullness of the Gospel: “How does it happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”—the Lord, which is to say, the God of Israel. Mary brings God into the world, thus making it, at least in principle, a temple.

And then Elizabeth announces that, at the sound of Mary’s greeting, “the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” This is the unborn John the Baptist doing his version of David’s dance before the ark of the covenant, his great act of worship of the King.

Reflect: Without the Holy Spirit, this exchange between Mary and Elizabeth would not have been possible. Reflect on the power of the Holy Spirit in your own life and in the Church.

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