Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year C

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

Lk 1:39-45

Luke highlights the connection that exists between John the Baptist, to whom Mary’s cousin Elizabeth will give birth and Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, to whom Mary will give birth. This connection is very important, as John is the messenger that stands on the threshold of a new era and heralds the promise made by the prophets, the coming of the messiah.

It is Elizabeth herself that foreshadows this. “Why should it happen that I am honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?”

The joy of the impending birth of our Saviour, Jesus, gives hope to many. The fact that his birth is celebrated worldwide, some 2000 years on, is testimony to the hope that the world finds in the birth of the Christ child.

The question Elizabeth asks is also one that we should be asking of ourselves this Advent, as we prepare for the great feast of Christmas. Why should we be honoured with a visit from our Lord, Jesus? After all, for Christians everywhere, the birth of Jesus marks the time in which God came and dwelt amongst us, the Emmanuel. Are we prepared to encounter “God with us” this Christmas and how will this encounter shape our new year and the many years that follow?

Anthony Cleary
Director, Mission and Identity