4th Sunday of Advent

In this week’s Gospel we hear how Mary “left in haste” to visit her cousin Elizabeth. This passage is one of my favorite readings because it is full of joy, and I like being happy. It’s also where we get our beloved ‘Hail Mary’ prayer. Sometimes I look at things a little differently to try to understand what Mary might have been like. It helps me to remember that she was a real human being. So, in my imagination, I try to put myself there and feel what Mary might have felt.

I see Mary, full of the Holy Spirit and new life! She is so excited that she can’t hold it in, but she must, for it is not yet time for her to tell. It is the best secret one could ever have: The Long-Awaited Messiah, The Prince of Peace, The Lord of Lords was finally coming, and He was growing within her. Mary’s joy must have been bursting through every part of her being. This must be told, but to whom? Elizabeth? Yes! The angel said she too was full of new life.

How quickly she must have packed, she probably forgot her toothbrush. I imagine she jogged, skipped, and giggled with delight as she traveled. Her joy emanated and she was overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth felt it, and so did John just at the sound of Mary’s voice. The Bible doesn’t tell us what she said only that she spoke. Perhaps it was, “Elizabeth, I have to tell you something!” She had planned to say, “You’re never going to believe it,” but she didn’t have to. Elizabeth knew by the Holy Spirit within her. She proclaimed the words we continue to echo today. “Mary! Blessed are YOU!” Your joy has spoken to my soul. Your joy is my joy, and I will try every day to make your YES, my yes as well.

As Advent ends and we move on to Christmas, don’t let the stress of the journey burden you down. Mary, as she walked along the path to Elizabeth’s had many things to worry about. Was she just dreaming? Did that really happen? What would Joseph think? Her parents? How am I going to prepare for this Child? Am I worthy to be His mother? But we know when she arrived, she was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit which she invited in with her ‘yes!’

I too have many worries and concerns. But I know that this same joy can overcome the stresses in our lives, this joy pushes out the worry, this joy is available to YOU as well if you believe. Say yes and invite the Holy Spirit in! I encourage you to echo Mary’s joy, believe what you have heard, and be filled with the Holy Spirit so your joy is overflowing. Share it with those you love, and may the Peace of Christ, the Savior of the World, be within you always.