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The Wonder of the Encounter
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
(Optional Memorial of Saint Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church)
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, you invite me to enter into this encounter with you in prayer. Thank you for calling me to be with you and to know you. I need you. You know, better than I do, just how much—and so you come to me. Thank you, Father, for sending your only Son. As the day of his birth draws closer, help me to open my heart to you in this moment of prayer and enter into this passage once more.
- Wonder of Mary: Mary, a newly pregnant young woman, got up in haste and traveled over hills and valleys to help her cousin prepare for birth. In her heart, did Mary wonder what Elizabeth would say? Would Elizabeth understand her condition as a blessing? Would Elizabeth recognize the Lord within her womb? Mary no doubt brought these concerns to Jesus as he allowed himself to be carried to Elizabeth’s home. Let us pause in wonder at this mystery and join Mary in her intimate dialogue with Jesus.
- Wonder from Elizabeth’s Heart: When Mary arrived at Elizabeth’s home, words of wonder poured forth from Elizabeth’s heart: “Who am I, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth–who was once barren, whose husband was struck dumb, who carried a mysterious child so late in life–must have had to let go of her plans, to trust and hope in the Lord over and over again. Great, indeed, must have been the wonder that welled up from her heart as she greeted Mary. “Who am I?”—to be so blessed by a greeting from the Mother of my Savior, a young woman who happens to be my cousin. “Who am I?”: to be tended to for weeks by the Mother of God? “Who am I?”—that I would live to see the fullness of time, the fulfillment of God’s promises? When we find ourselves wondering at God’s action in our lives, may we draw strength and consolation from Elizabeth, who saw God’s promises fulfilled beyond her wildest dreams.
- Wonder from the Waiting World: Elizabeth recognized Jesus in his Incarnation and was then able to rejoice in his presence in Mary’s womb. Not only had God fulfilled the deepest desire of Elizabeth’s heart, but he was fulfilling his promise to his chosen people too. As we draw one day closer to the birth of the Lord, may Elizabeth’s wonder become ours. Like her, may we learn to encounter God in the most unexpected places and worship him there!
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you are coming soon. Help me to prepare my heart for your coming. I wish to wonder at your faithfulness, marvel at your goodness, and entrust everything to you, as Mary and Elizabeth did.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make an act of trust and hope in you, giving over to you one of my worries or problems.
For Further Reflection: You may wish to spend some extra time in prayer, meditating on the second joyful mystery of the rosary.
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.