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On this fourth Sunday of Advent we read the familiar story of the Visitation --- Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Each of their lives has been touched by God’s powerful grace, and now both women are with child. The story is brief, but important. Mary has learned through the angel Gabriel that in her old age her cousin, Elizabeth is pregnant. In response to this news: “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” Elizabeth responded to Mary’s greeting by crying out in a loud voice: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” At the close of their encounter Elizabeth’s words to Mary are a message to all believers: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Clearly both Mary and Elizabeth were keenly aware of God’s work in their lives, and they rejoiced together in this shared knowledge. In this they are a model for all believers. They call us to believe in God’s ongoing and abiding presence in our lives and our world, and they remind us that we too will be blessed if we only believe that God’s promise to us will be fulfilled.
Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of the Prophet Micah. It contains the promise of a messiah made to the Israelites during the Babylonian captivity. “Thus says the Lord: You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be the ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times.”
For our second reading this weekend we continue to read from the Letter to the Hebrews. It speaks of the new “covenant” that is offered to us in Jesus Christ. “He takes away the first to establish the second. By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- When have you felt God’s grace touch your life?
- How did you respond to God’s grace when it touched your life?
- Paul says we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ. What does it mean to you to be consecrated?