Advent, December 21st

In today’s Gospel Elizabeth has just experienced the happiest two trimesters of her life, despite the morning sickness and hormonal somersaults that come with pregnancy. For Israel having children was a sign of God’s favor, and now she was blessed with motherhood after hoping and waiting for so many years. We can assume that Zechariah, in writing, told her about what happened in the Temple, and so she had the added grace of knowing her son would be blessed by God and had an important purpose not only for his family, but for all of Israel.

Yet Zechariah couldn’t have known about the Annunciation: Gabriel said nothing to him about whose son would be the Messiah or the circumstances, only that his son would be the Forerunner. Somehow Elizabeth knows; there’s no account of her receiving a visit from an angel, but Mary finds her full of the Holy Spirit when she comes to visit her and help her in the last months of her pregnancy. It’s safe to guess that the Holy Spirit revealed to her that her cousin Mary would be the mother of the Messiah. The Holy Spirit is also rejoicing, and moving Elizabeth and little John to rejoice as well, because the Spirit knows the world will soon be reconciled to God through the Son and in the power of that same Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has an important role in Advent as well. Let’s call upon the Holy Spirit in these last few days of Advent to fill us with joy through a deeper understanding of the incredible mysteries of God unfolding in these holy days.

Readings: Song of Solomon 2:8–14; Psalm 33:2–3, 11–12, 20–21; Luke 1:39–45. See also 4th Sunday of Advent, Cycle C.