Gospel Lk 1:39-44
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!
Today’s Gospel reading is an interesting selection. While we are eagerly anticipating the coming of the Christ child at Christmas, the Church directs our attention to Mary’s charitable visit to her cousin Elizabeth.
Just prior to this reading we are presented with the story of the Annunciation, where the Angel Gabriel seeks Mary’s consent to be the God-bearer. Upon inquiring how this can be, considering her own state in life, Mary freely gives her consent in an act of dynamic creative receptivity – becoming for all of us a model for free receptive-creative love.
The other piece of news that Mary receives at the Annunciation is that her cousin Elizabeth, previously thought to have been unable to conceive, and now well beyond child-bearing years, has miraculously conceived a child.
Mary’s action here is to immediately take the Word abroad. She travels, pregnant as she is, to the hill country of Judea to be with her cousin in her need. In this too she is a model for us all. In receiving into her body and her soul the very life of the Divine God-Man, she does not selfishly hide him away – but instead takes him out to where he is needed.
This is perhaps a perfect example of what Pope Francis has called the ‘mission to the margins.’ Mary goes out to be with those in need, but her actions are not that of mere philanthropy. She can perfectly give what has she has perfectly received, the divine life of God Himself in human flesh. This is why Elizabeth rightly says of her ‘Blessed are you among women’ and why we rightly echo her greeting in the Hail Mary. She is blessed because she has perfectly received the love of God and borne him to the world.
As this Advent season draws to a close let us look to Mary as a model for how we are to bear Christ to the world.
Point to Ponder
“Mary is totally dependent upon God and completely directed towards him, and at the side of her Son, she is the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe. It is to her as Mother and Model that the Church must look in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission.”
– Saint Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 37