|Song of Songs 2:8-14,
or Zephaniah 3:14-18
Psalms 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21
Today as I begin to prepare this reflection I am very aware of several things. One is that it is now three months since the terrible events of September 11th. Another is that in the land of today's gospel story, the hill country of Judah, this Advent season is a time of increasing violence and bloodshed. And so I ask myself: "What does the story of the Visitation say to us as we prepare for another Christmas?"
My answer is that the story of the Visitation tells us very clearly that all things are possible with God.The story confounds human wisdom in a number of ways. Elizabeth is past child bearing age, yet she will become the mother of John, the precursor of the Lord. Mary is a very young, simple girl, yet she will become the mother of our savior, Jesus Christ. The greeting of Elizabeth to Mary is inspired by the Holy Spirit and the baby stirs in her womb. All of these things are out of the ordinary, mysterious, yet they reveal the beginning of God's loving plan for our salvation. Even when Elizabeth comes to know that Mary will be the mother of the savior, her words are filled with humility, and she wonders that Mary has come to visit her; a visit she does not feel worthy of.
We have the same feeling of humility as we prepare for Christmas, a feeling that we are not worthy of having Christ come to us. But Christ loves us so much that he does come to us at Christmas.
Mary's response is a beautiful, humble acceptance of God's will. The remainder of Mary's visit with Elizabeth is hidden from us. But surely it was a time of joy and also of prayer as they prepared for giving birth.
Mary and Elizabeth set an example for all of us. They teach us that no matter how improbable something is, nothing is impossible with God's help. They give us an example of the humility that we should feel as we approach the celebration of another Christmas. And by their example they help us to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ at Christmas. As we prepare for his coming, we echo the words of Elizabeth's blessing and trust as Mary did that the words of the Lord will also be fulfilled for us.
Peace is one of the Lord's promises to us, but we do not always act in such a way as to deserve true peace. This year as we prepare for Christmas, let us turn our thoughts and prayers not only to the beautiful story of the Visitation, but also to the land where the story happened and the people who live there now. If, as we have said, anything is possible with God, then certainly peace is possible in the land of the Visitation. This Christmas let us ask the Christ child to come not only to us personally, but also to bring true peace to the the people and the land of his birth. May our prayers help to bring the love and peace of Christ to that land which is so in need of peace.
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