Homily for Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Every time I read this interaction between Mary and Elizabeth, I always find myself imagining the joy that each of the women had when they saw each other. Both of them had received incredible gifts from God. Elizabeth – once barren – now bears a son who would announce to the world the coming of the Savior. Mary, a virgin, now bears that Savior.
The joy that both women felt was an expression of the great gratitude they had for those gifts that God had given to them. But Elizabeth’s joy was amplified. She is the first person besides Mary who is made aware of the Incarnation of Jesus. She receives a second gift from the Holy Spirit – an awareness that Mary was bearing the very Savior of the world. And it was the Holy Spirit who compelled her, through her son leaping in her womb, to exclaim, as soon as she saw Mary: “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
As I reflected on this greeting of Elizabeth, I found myself drawn to the idea of hospitality and recognizing Christ present within those who visit us. And I guess that thought was coming to me as a way of reminding me about the upcoming visitors we might have joining us for Christmas Masses. I think it is a good reminder for all of us to have the same joy that Elizabeth felt at Mary’s visit when we interact and engage with those who visit us. But also, and probably more importantly, anyone we meet in our daily lives.
Do we recognize the presence of Christ within our brothers and sisters? Do we recognize the presence of Christ within those who are different from us in appearance or thought? And do we welcome them with the same joy as Elizabeth’s greeting of Mary? If we don’t, why not? Maybe that can be something that we pray about today and in the days leading up to Christmas – ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the goodness every person carries within them and to welcome them with joy.