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.
Christmas is often a time for different generations in a family to come together. Grandparents delight in sharing Christmas memories with the youngest family members. On our Christmas tree we hang both new and old ornaments. Our celebrations this year usually prompt us to remember the Christmases long past.
Today’s Liturgy of the Word offers us a meeting between old and new. In ourGospel, the Old Covenant–represented by Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist–meets the New Covenant– symbolized by Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Our second reading, from theLetter to the Hebrews presents Jesus, whose sacrificial death on the cross replaces the sacrifices of the old law.
God’s promise to shepherd his flock spans both the old and the new covenants, as our first reading tells us. The birth of the shepherd-Messiah from the line of David will fulfill ancient promises and usher in an age of peace.
Such fulfillment–such peace, is what both old and young long for as we gather to celebrate Christmas this season. Perhaps the Christmas celebrations in our families might have room for some time of prayer and storytelling which would allow for those hopes to be voiced. For we celebrate the birth of the One who personifies peace: Jesus Christ, born into our world to fulfill the ancient longings of the human family.