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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Fourth Sunday of Advent (C)

1st Reading (Mic 5:1-4): Thus says the Lord: You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne, and the rest of his kindred shall return to the children of Israel. He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord, in the majestic name of the Lord, his God; and they shall remain, for now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace.
Responsorial Psalm: 79
R/. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken, from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth. Rouse your power, and come to save us.

Once again, o Lord of hosts, look down from heaven, and see; take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

May your help be with the man of your right hand, with the son of man whom you yourself made strong. Then we will no more withdraw from you; give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
2nd Reading (Heb 10:5-10): Brothers and sisters: When Christ came into the world, he said: «Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight. Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, o God’». First he says, «Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in». These are offered according to the law. Then he says, «Behold, I come to do your will». He takes away the first to establish the second. By this «will», we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Versicle before the Gospel (Lk 1:38): Alleluia. Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 1:39-45): During those days Mary set out 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.”

“Blessed are you who believed”

+ Mons. Ramon MALLA i Call Emeritus Bishop of Lleida (Lleida, Spain)

Today, is the last Sunday before the arrival —the Advent— of God in Bethlehem. So as to be the same as us in everything, He wanted to be conceived —as any other person— in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, but by the action and grace of the Holy Spirit, as He was God. Very soon, on Christmas Day, we will celebrate His birth with great joy.

The Gospel today presents us with two people, Maria and her cousin Elizabeth, who show us with their example the spiritual attitude we should have towards this event. It should be an attitude of faith, of dynamic faith.

Elizabeth, with sincere humility, “filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, (….) ‘how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’” (Lk 1:41-43). Nobody had explained anything to her. It was her faith alone, the Holy Spirit that had made her see that her cousin was the mother of her Lord, of God.

Knowing the attitude of total faith on Mary's part, when the angel announced that God had chosen her to be his earthly mother, Elizabeth is eager to proclaim the happiness and joy that faith gives. She underlines this saying: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Lk 1:45).

So we must live Christmas with faith. But, like Maria and Elizabeth, with a dynamic faith. As a consequence, like Elizabeth, there is no need to hide the joy and gratitude that comes with having faith. Like Maria we have to show it with our deeds. “During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth”. (Lk 1:39-40) to congratulate her and to help her, staying with her for three months (cf. Lk 1:56).

Saint Ambrose recommends that, in these festive days, “We have all Maria's spirit for glorifying the Lord”. We won't lack opportunities for sharing joys and helping the needy.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “John leaps for joy and the spirit of Mary rejoices in her turn. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving John, while Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit before conceiving the Lord. Elizabeth says: ‘Blessed are you because you have believed’.” (Saint Ambrose)

  • “When Mary enters Elizabeth's home, her greeting is brimming with grace. At this meeting the silent protagonist is Jesus. Mary carries Him in her womb as a living Tabernacle and she offers Him to us as the most sacred gift. Wherever Mary goes Jesus is present.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, ‘and why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’ (Lk 1:43). Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: ‘Let it be to me according to your word.’ (Lk 1:38). By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: ‘Thy will be done’” Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 2677)