In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” —Luke 1:39–45
All the anticipation comes to a climax in this last week of Advent. From the early days of Advent when the focus is on the Second Coming at the end of time through the middle days when we reflect on the many ways God is present to us in our daily lives, we’ve arrived at the stories of the preparation for the coming of the Son of God as a baby in Bethlehem.
The infinite and the intimate are both part of the wonder of Emmanuel. Waiting might be one of the greatest challenges for modern people. It’s woven into so much of what we do, and as we’ve seen, it required both patience and trust. Waiting for birth and waiting for death (itself a rebirth into eternity) might be the most intense times of waiting we experience. Rushing either one does irreparable damage to the web of life.
Elizabeth exclaims to Mary, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” One wonder whether her blessing is for Mary or herself or more likely for both. Because each woman heard a promise that seemed almost impossible and yet she chose to trust in the wisdom and power of God to bring that promise to fulfillment. Their journey isn’t over at this point, but as they join in celebration of that promise, the road is made easier by the presence of a companion on the way. We need to recover and reignite the power of blessing in our lives.It’s a way of making holy both the ordinary and extraordinary moments in our lives. In blessing ourselves and one another we acknowledge the presence of God in our midst.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Meditation is nothing new for Catholics. We may have called it by different names through our long history, but the pattern of quiet reflection on the divine mystery and prayers to help our busy minds find focus is deeply rooted in our spiritual tradition. Take time today to pray the joyful mysteries of the rosary. Today’s Gospel is the second of those, the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.
A SIMPLE GIFT
At night before you go to bed, make a conscious effort to ask God to bless those near and dear to you. I remember once seeing my grandma sprinkling holy water in the air in her bedroom and I knew instinctively that she was blessing each of us. You might also want to begin to say, “God bless you” when you say, “I love you.”