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. (Lk 1:39-40)
We are much closer to the coming feast of Christmas, and this Sunday we focus more on the immediate events preceding the birth of the Savior. I recommend the movie The Nativity for its portrayal of the events that began with the visit of the angel to Zechariah in the temple to the birth of Jesus and flight into Egypt. Travel was hard in those days, so Mary faced some challenges as she went in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Both of these women were pregnant under very different circumstances. They celebrated the marvels that God had done in fulfilling the promises of the covenant. The theme is continued in Mary’s Magnificat.
The theme of the journey is very much a part of our Scriptural heritage. Pope St. John Paul II referred to Mary as the star of the new evangelization. Pope Francis challenges us to be missionary disciples in his recent Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel. At the opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis reminded us to pass through the Holy Door and “to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them.” It is the Holy Spirit who hovered over Mary that impels us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
As we light the fourth candle on a wreath, let us pray, that with God’s help, we may dispel the darkness that covers the earth. May the Christmas story invite us to extend a warm welcome to all we will meet this coming holy season, especially the stranger and the immigrant. May we like Mary travel in haste to share the joy of the gospel. Finally, let’s try to practice more patience and kindness in these final Advent days.
You are all a gift. Thanks so much for being faithful parishioners as we share the joy of Christmas to a world “in sin and error pining.”
A blessed Christmas to one and all!
Fr. Tim and Fr. Mike