Today's readings can be found here.
The tale of Mary visiting her sister Elizabeth is probably one that rings true for so many women who are pregnant, or who have a friend who is pregnant. The intimacy of that time is an amazing treasure. The miracle of life, the pulse of creation flows around a pregnancy. I imagine that the gestating Jesus Christ's energy was amazing. It was so powerful that Elizabeth felt the Spirit move within her and tell her that Mary was pregnant and with God's child, the Messiah. How wonderful it must have been for Mary to have heard this. Elizabeth's greeting confirmed what the angel had told her at the Annunciation.
The longing of a pregnant woman is intense. The head of a pregnant woman is full of questions, wonders, fears, hopes, and anticipation. It is amazing that a pregnant woman can do anything but think about the baby! The anticipation of the child is intensely overwhelming. It is with this intensity that we should be awaiting the second coming of Christ.
Unfortunately, the typical Advent longing is for things, food, or parties. The energy of the season is often inappropriately funneled into things that do not last, and things that do not satisfy. The platters will be put away, the ribbons and paper in the trash, the ornaments in the attic. Even worse, on December 26th, people say, “Christmas is over.” Christmas begins on the 25th and ends with the Epiphany 12 days later.
We have five days between today, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and Christmas. Today's reading features the second joyful mystery, the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. Perhaps the better way to prepare for Christmas, better than shopping, cooking, or addressing envelopes, would be to pray.
Pick up the rosary. Meditate and pray over the Joyful Mysteries. The Annunciation announces Christ's conception in Mary's womb, the Visitation brings us to the union of Elizabeth and Mary, but also Jesus and John the Baptist, the Nativity celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas, the Presentation commemorates Jesus' Jewish origins and the fulfillment of a vision for Simeon who had been anticipating the Lord's coming, finally the fifth mystery reminds us of the time that Joseph and Mary thought Jesus was lost and found Him in the temple. I pray that these mysteries remind us of the true reason for anticipation this time of year, and give us the same spirit of longing and anticipation as Simeon, Elizabeth and Mary had for the coming Messiah.