Scripture: Lectionary 198. Song of Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18. Psalm 33: 2-3,11-12.20-21. Luke 1:39-45.
As Advent comes to its end in these last three or four days before Christmas, we approach the Feast with the sentiments and feelings of Mary who will soon give birth to Jesus. The Gospel for today guides our Advent reflection in the Psalm Response that cries out with joy: “Cry out with joy in the Lord, you holy ones; sing out a new song.” (Psalm 33:3).
There are two readings given for the first reading and both are songs that continue what our Response is on this Advent Day as we approach Christmas. We may choose either the Song of Songs 2:8-14 or the Daughter of Zion song found in Zephaniah 3:14-18. We may imagine them as the songs that Mary and Elizabeth sing together as they greet each other in one of the most beautiful and touching scenes in the New Testament, the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth.
In the symbolism of the first reading we imagine Mary making her way to her cousin with careful haste (spoude). She is like a gazelle running to meet Elizabeth while spontaneously breaking out into a cry of joy when she does embrace the elderly relative. Youth and aging both celebrate with joy and song. Their offspring respond with their own joy and dance within the wombs of the women. Elizabeth cries out, “But who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” We are led to join in their joy and love while pondering over this wonderful event.
Yes, on this shortest day of the year and longest night, we join the two pregnant mothers and cry out in the depths of our own hearts with joy. New life is more than promised, it is also hastening on its way; again “spoude.” The hour of the birth of our Lord is soon here. We have prepared well for his coming through our friends Isaiah, John the Baptist, Joseph, and now Mary and Elizabeth.
In an old prayer book that the Marianists used for their prayers together there are suggestions for the effect of each mystery of the Rosary. They are called the fruit of the mystery that is meditated upon. For the second joyous mystery, the Visitation, the fruit of the mystery is love of our neighbor. How attentive the two women were to each other. We, too, are encouraged to be attentive to one another not only as neighbors but also as brothers and sisters to each other.
One way of capturing the Gospel message and its “fruit” is to pray this second joyous mystery while having the text of the Gospel before our eyes (Luke 1:39-45) wherein this mystery was experienced for the first time not by being read, prayed, or recited, but by actually being lived out in its fullness. May we learn much from Mary and Elizabeth as we await the birth of the savior. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.