Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

(Song of Songs 2:8-14; Luke 1:39-45)

Often the Virgin Mary is portrayed as carrying Jesus in her womb.  In the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, for example, the black belt around the Virgin’s waist signals her pregnancy.  Such images indicate not only that Mary is the mother of Jesus but also that she is his apostle bringing him to others.  Today’s gospel conveys this double meaning.

Acting on God’s word, Mary visits her kinswoman Elizabeth in the hill country.  Having arrived, the child within her womb causes the more developed child in Elizabeth to stir.  Elizabeth, guided by the Holy Spirit, names what is taking place.  She praises Mary first for being the mother of God and then for believing in the unlikely message of the angel.  Mary will explain what Jesus’ birth will mean to the world in tomorrow’s gospel passage.

We do well to emphasize that Mary’s significance is more than she is the mother of Jesus as important as that role is.  She is also his first and most perfect disciple.  She listens to and accepts the word of God.  She acts on it as she visits Elizabeth.  Finally, she interprets its meaning for others.  The best way we can venerate Mary is by imitating her example.