4th Sunday of Advent (5th & 6th day of Simbanggabi)
39In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country,
40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.
And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit42and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
Faith Seeking Understanding: Mary a Model to Believers
In this 4th Sunday of Advent (5th day of the Simbanggabi), the Church presents to us our Mother Mary as a model of faith. She is a model of our inner quest to understand our belief–a faith that seeks understanding.
Our gospel reading is a continuation of or a sequel—so to say—to the message of Gabriel. In the annunciation, when Gabriel revealed to Mary the great plan of Yahweh to re-enter creation through her role as Mother of God, Mary, perplexed at the message, hesitated and sought for a sign from the angel that indeed God was very serious of His plan to use her to be the Mother of His Son “How can this be since I am a virgin” (v.34). After Gabriel’s revelation of the identity of Jesus, the Son of God, the angel showed to her a sign to fully convince to her of God’s plan, “…your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God” (vv. 36-37).
The life story of Elizabeth was an open secret, at best to her relatives. She is very righteous in the sight of the law, faithful to her consecration, and committed to Jewish rituals and practices; but, although advanced in age, remained unblessed with a child. The message of Gabriel to Mary that her cousin was already in her sixth month must have been, from the part of Mary, a proof of the Yahweh’s words through Gabriel. Mary needed to confirm that indeed, Yahweh’s miracle through her cousin is a sign of the truthfulness of the message of Gabriel. Only a word from Elizabeth about her pregnancy was enough sign of Mary role to take in the economy of salvation.
Faith Understood (Elizabeth)
One needs a small stretch of imagination to understand what could have been going through with Mary when saw her cousin Elizabeth six-month pregnant; one can easily imagine what could have been going on in the conscience of Mary when she heard the words of her cousin–“Blessed are you among women…” (v.42).
The sight of her cousin’s pregnancy was a physical sign of God’s almighty power and benevolence; but the words said to her by Elizabeth must have changed Mary’s life’s perspective, goal and destiny. One can imagine, the words of Gabriel first addressed to Mary “hail, greatly favored one” becoming true right at the very sight of Elizabeth. The greetings of her cousin Elizabeth, “blessed (eulogemene) [v.42] are you among women” re-echoes the greeting of God through Gabriel
One can easily imagine that right that very time, Mary must have understood her own personality, her wholeness, her holiness, her righteousness, her goodness, her pleasantness—all as coming from a divine plan and preparation for her great role in the story of salvation of humanity. God right from the very beginning of Mary’s own birth have prepared her to become the Mother of His Son Jesus. At the hearing of the words of her cousin, by way of recollection, she must have seen God’s various and many interventions in her life. At last, everything she is, she was and will be have fallen into pieces. Her faith has become more firm than ever, her resolute to obey God’s will become more determined, and her heart beats nothing but the will of God for her.
One can best imagine at this time the meaning of Mary’s words “I am the servant of the Lord, Let it be done to me according to your [Angel Gabriel’s] word. She is now ready to take on and embrace the role God had prepared for her.
Mary: Mother of Mery (Misericorida Vultus no. 24)
“24. My thoughts now turn to the Mother of Mercy. May the sweetness of her countenance watch over us in this Holy Year, so that all of us may rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness. No one has penetrated the profound mystery of the incarnation like Mary. Her entire life was patterned after the presence of mercy made flesh. The Mother of the Crucified and Risen One has entered the sanctuary of divine mercy because she participated intimately in the mystery of His love.
Chosen to be the Mother of the Son of God, Mary, from the outset, was prepared by the love of God to be the Ark of the Covenant between God and man. She treasured divine mercy in her heart in perfect harmony with her Son Jesus. Her hymn of praise, sung at the threshold of the home of Elizabeth, was dedicated to the mercy of God which extends from “generation to generation” (Lk 1:50). We too were included in those prophetic words of the Virgin Mary. This will be a source of comfort and strength to us as we cross the threshold of the Holy Year to experience the fruits of divine mercy.
At the foot of the Cross, Mary, together with John, the disciple of love, witnessed the words of forgiveness spoken by Jesus. This supreme expression of mercy towards those who crucified him show us the point to which the mercy of God can reach. Mary attests that the mercy of the Son of God knows no bounds and extends to everyone, without exception. Let us address her in the words of the Salve Regina, a prayer ever ancient and ever new, so that she may never tire of turning her merciful eyes upon us, and make us worthy to contemplate the face of mercy, her Son Jesus.”
Fr. der, oar