Gospel Reflection Fourth Sunday of Advent RSM Veronica Lawson

Reflection on the Gospel  4th Sunday of Advent Year C

(Luke 1:39-44)

-Veronica Lawson RSM

The fourth Sunday of Advent draws us closer to the celebration of the Christmas mysteries. The gospel offers the story of the young pregnant woman, Miriam of Nazareth, travelling purposefully from her home town of Nazareth to the hill country of Judaea, some 130 kilometres to the south, to be with an older woman who is also pregnant, her cousin Elizabeth. Mary enters “the house of Zechariah” who remains in the background. While Zechariah is the householder according to Jewish law, his earlier reluctance to believe renders him silent and powerless to offer hospitality. Elizabeth’s contrasting openness to recognise and to affirm the living presence of God in their midst makes her the true householder and foreshadows the reversal that is to characterise the new order, an order that is yet to be fully realised. The two women embrace and, in their loving embrace, the Spirit-filled life gestating within Mary encounters and physically affects the life that is coming to birth in Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s words resound throughout the ages in the prayer we know as the Hail Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb….” These are the words of one prophetic woman to another. Elizabeth recognises that Mary is blessed by God because she believed that God’s promise to her would be fulfilled. As God’s prophet, Elizabeth gives expression to the faith that is to be embraced by all who accept that Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Miriam of Nazareth, is the Holy One of God (Luke 1:35). The lives of both women prophets have been transformed through the power of God’s Spirit. Their respective children will bring to birth unprecedented events in human history.

Elizabeth’s proclamation of the blessing of God on Mary is found daily on the lips of countless faith-filled Christians across the globe. It echoes the blessing prayer of Moses to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 28: 2-4): “May you be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. Blessed is the fruit of your womb, the produce of your soil and the offspring of your livestock….” This ancient blessing recognizes the interconnection of all God’s creation. We might make it our own blessing prayer. In our times, God’s blessing on the whole Earth community can only become a reality when we stop playing politics in the interests of short-term gains or personal greed, when we read the signs of the times and work together to address the underlying causes of global warming and its effects. Advent is not a time of passive waiting. It is a time to ponder the various ways that God sustains life in its diverse forms. It is a time to become householders, like Elizabeth, who clear the paths and open our doors for the God of life to enter in. It is a time to embrace, to “be there” for one another and to nurture the life that is coming to birth.  

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