The liturgy through the season of Advent provides events and characters to meditate upon. We are joined by Hebrew Testament prophets in our journey who express the hopes and longings of the generations of people for the Messiah to come. In the weekday Masses, Isaiah provides the main voice, but in our Sunday Masses, we have heard Jeremiah, Baruch, Zephaniah and today Micah. We have seen how the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the exile of the people of God provided the historical background, and the work of John the Baptist, the greatest prophet in Israel in five hundred years, prepared the way for the Lord to come. Now, on this fourth Sunday, finally Mary the mother of Jesus takes the stage, as she responds to the annunciation by the angel Gabriel and travels as quickly as she could to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth.
Although both Mary and Elizabeth have every right to be overwhelmed by the events that have overtaken them with their unexpected pregnancies, each demonstrates rather incredible grace to offer support and compassion for the other above herself.
The main idea that has struck many saints and spiritual writers across the centuries, is the opening line of the Gospel today: the fact that Mary travels with haste to visit Elizabeth. Once the spirit has moved in her life and she receives this great grace, Mary does not wait idly by or procrastinate. She acts upon the impulse of grace – and goes with haste. Perhaps this is the spiritual impulse that we can receive from the readings today. So often we allow our dreams and desires to remain un-addressed. If there is a letter that we know we need to write, a phone call or visit that we need to make, a word of encouragement that needs to be spoken, or reconciliation that needs to be sought, should we not allow this great grace to stir us to go with haste?
Recorded at St Paul’s, 8am (6’56”)
Artwork by Tahnja Wolter, a parishioner at St Michael’s, Nowra.