Fourth Sunday in Advent (19 Dec.)


As soon as Mary understood this wondrous event which had taken place, and realised that she was carrying Jesus within her womb, she could not keep the gift to herself, but went with haste to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who herself was pregnant in her old age, with John.

Mary went with haste, disregarding the difficulties and dangers of the treacherous journey, and probably spent a few days on the road to get to her destination. I wonder what she was thinking about as she travelled along! I know, that as well as being there to help Elizabeth, she must also have been relieved that she had someone like her cousin, with whom she could relate and share her good news and anxieties. It was a two-way experience of life, the young and the old, the wise and the hopeful, both sharing their hopes and their fears and joy together – a blessed time.

As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, she rushed out of the house to meet her, and embracing her exclaimed: “Of all women, you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Elizabeth realised then that there was something special about her cousin, Mary, that she was the most blessed of all women, because she was carrying Jesus in her womb.

Elizabeth was so moved by the visit of Mary, and acknowledged the great trust in God that she had shown by believing that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled through her. And Elizabeth, too, in her own life was a woman of great trust and hope. She, like Mary, had also been blessed in her old age, and was soon to become the mother of John. It is easy to imagine this wonderful meeting of the two pregnant women who must have been so thankful, and humble in the fact that they had both been chosen to be an integral part of God’s plan for creation.

Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, spoke those famous words: “Why should I be honoured by a visit from the mother of my Lord?” These words really struck a chord with me, and the thought suddenly struck me – yes, blessed was Elizabeth by being visited by Mary – but “Who am I that the Lord himself should come to me?

How does this great reality influence my daily life? How am I affected by the realization that I am always visited by the Lord, who promised to be with us always, all the days of our life. What a grace we have received! The Lord himself is present in us at all times, is constantly visiting us even if we are unaware of his presence with us.

Hopefully then during this special time of Advent, when we are preparing for the great Feast of Christmas, may we become ever more aware of the abiding presence of Christ within us and may we show by our way of living, that we are living out the challenge to bring, as Mary did, Christ to all those we meet. May it be a very special time of grace for all of us and for all whom we meet.


Sr. Padraigín McKenna


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