Year C: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Throughout Advent, we have heard of Godís promise to send a liberator - a saviour into the world - today, we catch a glimpse of how that is to be accomplished.
The meeting described in todayís Gospel is not the between the great and the good - the rich and powerful - but a meeting which would probably have gone barely noticed. It is a meeting between a young Jewish woman and her older kinswoman. If the encounter was remarked upon, it was most likely to have been in terms of the miraculous pregnancy so late in life of Elizabeth and the striking dumb of her husband, Zechariah. Comment might have been passed that it was kind of the younger woman to come and help at such a time - it wasnít going to be easy for Elizabeth having a small baby at her time of life.
But Elizabeth realises that, wondrous though her own pregnancy is, the child that her young visitor is going to bear is to be far greater. Even more astounding is that already her child responds to the Spirit at work in Mary - he leaps in response to hearing her voice. Elizabeth is grateful to Mary for coming but overwhelmed that she should be honoured by such a visitor. When she speaks of one being blessed for believing Godís promise, it is hard to know whether she means Mary - or herself - or both!
For Mary, it must have been a moment of reassurance - that all she had understood from the angel made sense to someone - even though she had struggle to work out how it could be. The promise made by God to send a liberator must have seemed destined for the wife of a king - and here it was being fulfilled in an ordinary young woman from a backwater called Nazareth.
God is a indeed a God of surprises. All the prophecies of a mighty, liberating saviour - one who dresses his bride in clothes radiating his own glory - one who exults in his people, dancing and singing songs of joy with them - all these prophecies that we have heard over recent weeks are being fulfilled in an unassuming woman who goes to help her kinswoman during her pregnancy and confinement.
God looks on the lowly and raises them up - this is the promise of Advent - the promise of the song of Mary whose soul glorifies her - and our - Lord.
What does it mean for me?
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