Reflection on the Gospel of Luke 1:39 – 55: Fourth Sunday in Advent Dec 19, 2021

Gospel of Luke 1:39- 55

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Let us Pray: Loving God – as we approach the day of Christ’s birth help us to throw wide the doors of our hearts in preparation.  Help us to sense the importance of what happened so long ago when Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, to remember the words of the angels and the prophets and the teachers of old, and to celebrate all the promises that you made through them.  Help us to take firm hold of the meaning of all these things and to know in the depths of our being that even now you are seeking to work in us and through us to fulfill the promises you have made. Lord hear our prayer. Amen.

Immediately before today’s reading, Mary has been visited by the angel Gabriel and told she will conceive and bear a son, Jesus the Messiah. In response to her shock at this impossible thing, the angel tells her of her barren elderly relative Elizabeth, now miraculously and impossibly six months pregnant. So, when the angel leaves, Mary sets out to find Elizabeth and see this other impossible pregnancy for herself. These two mothers-to-be come together, mothers bearing children who will change the world as we know it forever. When, she enters Elizabeth’s house, she doesn’t find judgment or doom-and-gloom. She is met with joy. “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” What it must have meant for Mary to have heard those words. Like all the weight lifted off her shoulders. After feeling shame and after feeling like a disappointment to all who were around her, she was declared to be a blessing. Have there been times when someone made you feel good with a pleasant greeting, a smile or just a hug. Sometimes it just takes a small acknowledgement to change one’s whole day. That is what Elizabeth did for Mary. Luke tells us something else also happened at the sound of Mary’s greeting. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. This means that the words Elizabeth spoke next came from God. Elizabeth’s words were prophecy as she spoke forth a word from God by the Holy Spirit. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’  

And then Mary speaks of a compassionate God, a God who cares for the despairing and downtrodden, a God faithful to the hurting and heartbroken, a God who will turn the world around for mercy, peace, and justice. Mary speaks of what God has already done. So, we can sing with Mary of what God has accomplished, our spirits rejoicing at the world is made new. As we are dramatically called to notice something BIG that God is doing; and this something BIG involves turning things upside down: raising up the lowly, bringing down the insincere great ones of the earth, and creating a whole new world. Because nothing will be impossible with God. For our God is a mighty God who does mighty things for ordinary people. And although you find this truth throughout the pages of Scripture, one of the most prominent places is right here in this passage. Mary’s song is a song of praise to the Lord who has done great things for her, a simple, common young woman who simply trusted in the Lord. And He will do great things for you also if you just trust the Lord.

Let us Pray: Lord – may this Christmas season be for us and for those around us a season of healing, may it be a season of hope, peace and of love and of joy, may it be a time of true sharing and of rejoicing in all the earth. This we pray in your name. Jesus our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

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