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In These Days
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “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? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, what joy there must be in your heart as this journey of Advent continues. I want to pause on my Advent way, to spend these moments of prayer with you. I believe you are here and you wish to encounter me. You come out to meet me, just as your mother got up and went on her way to meet Elizabeth. Mother Mary, help me to open my heart to the Lord in these moments of prayer so that I may hear what he wishes to say to me today, too.
- Those Days: Mary set out in haste in “those days.” What were those days filled with for her? How many emotions she must have held in her heart. She was newly pregnant with God’s Son, her Savior, filled with God’s life in a new way—in a way that no creature on earth had been before. Surely she thought of what to tell her good husband Joseph and her pious parents. Was she still surprised and delighted and simply awestruck every time her heart turned in dialogue to the precious babe growing inside of her? As we journey on our Advent pilgrimage, let us accompany Mary closely, asking her to intercede for us so that we experience Our Lord’s presence growing in our hearts more each day.
- Love Moves to Love: The Gospel tells us that Mary went in haste to care for her cousin. What a pure love and sincere concern characterized her heart. Perhaps she was driven by this new life of God in her, an even fuller expression of the life of grace than had already filled her. We can learn from Mary to continue giving of ourselves even when things are uncertain and our future is unclear. Like Mary, we can rejoice in the totally unexpected and providential ways God chooses to work in our lives (and invites us to work together with him).
- Be Blessed: Elizabeth called Mary blessed because God chose her to be his mother. Mary was blessed because of her selfless response to God—her fiat. Our Lord extends countless invitations to us every day, hoping for our fiat. St. Augustine’s words ring true in this light: God has created us without us, but he has not wished to redeem us without us (CCC 1847). We are truly blessed when we accept the grace God offers us and embrace his will in the circumstances of our life.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, how you must have shared in Mary’s joy as she cherished those days with you in her womb—her joy became your joy, and your joy, hers. How I wish I could enter into this deep communion too, as Elizabeth and John did, and perhaps Zechariah too, as time went on. In this time of prayer, stir my heart as you did theirs, with the graces you know I most need and which you most desire to give me. Come, Lord Jesus!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to go out of myself and serve you in another person. Let me rise up to serve you, as Mary did.
For Further Reflection: You may wish to spend some time contemplating art depicting this beautiful encounter between Mary and Elizabeth. There are countless inspiring images that may help your prayer.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid and Valencia, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families and young people she’s there to serve.