Emmanuel, “God With Us”
A 96 yr old great-grandmother of 13 testified her greatest lesson in life was “to wait”.
Today’s Liturgy of the Word opens with the Song of Songs, deemed by many to be the most beautiful love song ever written, ever heard. It is a poetic song delightful to the ear and visually enticing. Both the lover and the beloved sing of true love’s longing. Each sings of the anticipated joy at the prospect of being together. But, they must wait. It is not yet time. The beloved is hidden, “…in the secret recesses…”. The lover pleads “…let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and you are lovely.” The song is of earthy joy, longing and desire. The lovers can hardly contain themselves. It is a time of joyful expectation.
The gospel story is a mirror image of the love song. It is the love story that exists among Mary, her older cousin Elizabeth and the babies they carry, Jesus and John (the Baptist).
Just imagine the young girl Mary skipping, running, flying, leaping “like a gazelle” through the hill country on her way to be with Elizabeth whose baby is due. Elizabeth’s time of joyful expectancy nears fulfillment. Elizabeth has waited many long years for her promised child. Mary, young and newly pregnant is full of Love and joyful expectations. She has only months not years to wait for her fulfillment. Imagine their greeting, tears of joy and anticipation running down their cheeks. Each one reaching for the other while awkwardly maneuvering their arms around Elizabeth’s swollen belly. Their mutual longing is gratified. They are overcome with delight.
The Love Mary carries blesses Elizabeth who is “filled with the Holy Spirit”. Elizabeth cannot suppress the thrill she feels “… the moment the sound of your (Mary) greeting reached my ears (my) infant (John) leaped for joy”. Elizabeth reverently sings the praises of Mary and the infant (Jesus) she carries. “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” In their sisterly confidences there is unbridled joy in the midst of longing and waiting. They live in expectation for the fulfillment of their confinements and for the fulfillment of the Promise.
The love song and the love story are lived out experiences of joy, longing, desire, waiting and fulfillment . The Lover sings, “…the rains are over and gone… The flowers appear on the earth …and the song of the dove is heard in our land.” In the love story, Mary’s greeting, the infant’s leaping and Elizabeth’s song proclaim the certainty of the promise.
And so it is for me. In these seemingly long, dark, cold days and weeks of Advent I have waited. Waited in joyful longing, anticipation and expectation for He who is coming. At times the wait has been challenging. In these last few days, the movements of fulfillment begin to gently quiver in my heart. The indwelling whisper of the Spirit blessings my waiting. With the lovers, with Mary and Elizabeth, I rejoice.
Emmanuel, “God With Us”
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