“Towards the encounter” Advent
4th Sunday of Advent – Year C
On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we can observe this wonderful scene of Mary and Elizabeth. The story of a journey, animated by the joy of the spirit. Here the history of the Old and New Testament is intertwined. The old woman carries the expectation of humanity, while the little girl brings this expectation of humanity. The recognition takes place between the two babies in the womb. A passage that enlightens us on how to recognize the Lord who comes.
Maria goes to visit Elizabeth, who hid herself due to the too much amazement for her late pregnancy. It is the visit of the Lord to his people, and the Baptist recognizes it. It is the most beautiful desire of God, to be recognized by men. Maria goes quickly, not anxiously, not for curiosity, but for love and friendship. To see a sign announced by the angel, which is Elizabeth. The meaning of what happened in itself. The mountains of Judea, creation, dialogue again in biblical history. They are the mountains of the revelation of the Old Testament, of the Jewish tradition. To find the sign, we must travel the mountains of our history, like Mary. Only there we can know the promise, the expectation of God.
If there is no waiting, there is nobody to be waiting for. One needs the other. On this journey there is the embrace between these two wonderful realities, which represent our thirst for a definitive encounter, a God who is a gift. Without waiting, there is no expectation: how much sadness on returning home, when no one is waiting for us! With no encounter there is only frustration.
Mary greets Elizabeth, brings her peace, in a very particular way. They are related, and they must meet. The first thing that happens in this meeting is a dance of joy! As “brother fire is joyful”, with that fire of the Spirit, the Baptist dances, all humanity dances. The aim of all history is this recognition of the Messiah: the drama of God is not to be recognized, not to be embraced. He reveals himself every day, in the poor, in creation, in beauty, in silence, and we do not recognize him. “Love is not loved” Francis of Assisi used to say.
Maria is defined blessed as Jael, as Judith, who cut off the heads of the enemies, because she will crush the head of the serpent. And Jesus is associated with an image of creation, he is a fruit! God is the supreme gift! The dance and the question “To what do I owe …” remind us of David’s exclamation and dance in front of the Ark of the Covenant. Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, in which in the sanctuary there was the presence of God in the absence, in the word. In Mary, the word heard becomes flesh, becomes presence.
Each of us can be a sanctuary if we give flesh to the word, if we listen to it. If a word is not heard, it is nothing. If it is listened to, it is joy !! It is astonishment! It’s Laudato Si ‘… Francis too experiences this conflict with the Word,“nullu homo ene dignu te mentovare”(“and there is no man fit to mention Thee”). Joy is the signature that God places in his work, even without the use of words! We are called to contemplate this joy, to recognize it and remember it. Often we run, we are outside ourselves, but we can recognize the Lord by entering ourselves.
This beautiful embrace between Mary and Elizabeth seems beautifully portrayed by the last words of the Canticle of the Creatures, where Francis sang:“Laudate e benedicete mi’ Signore et rengratiate e serviteli cum grande humilitate” (“Praise ye and bless ye my Lord, and give him Thanks, and be subject unto Him with great humility”) (FF263).
Beatitude, the fundamental happiness, is trusting in God, in his word. We wholeheartedly wish you to approach this Christmas with this bliss. Happy fourth Sunday of Advent!
Very deep reflection on this beautiful gospel reading. I like very much the connection & continuity with the Old & The New Testament. Indeed we meet God in the flesh now when we meet the poor and our sisters and brothers in need, when we see creation in all its magnificence. We have to have eyes to see & a heart to love God in all these aspects.
Absolutely beautiful reflection tying the Old Testament longing for God to His presence in Mary. Can you identify the artist for the lovely painting of the Visitation? Thank you.
I would like to go on a pilgrimage to Assisi in 2023, if possible, especially as it will be one thousand years since St. Francis introduced a live crib scene in Greccio in Italy.
I have spent time at the Portiuncula, Clay Cross, Derbyshire, where I got to know more about St. Francis, thanks to Sister Patricia Jordan (FSM) and the sisters of the St. Clare’s Convent at Clay Cross. God helped me discern the answer to a problem I needed His help with!
A beautiful reflection