Thursday, December 21, 2023
Readings for Today
Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. Luke 1:39–40
We are presented today with the glorious story of the Visitation. When Mary was about two months pregnant, she traveled to be with her cousin Elizabeth who was to give birth within a month. Though much could be said about this as an act of familial love given from Mary to Elizabeth, the central focus immediately becomes the precious Child within the womb of Mary.
Imagine the scene. Mary had just traveled about 100 miles. She was most likely exhausted. As she finally arrived, she would have been relieved and joyful at the completion of her journey. But Elizabeth says something quite inspiring at that moment, which elevates the joy of all present, including the joy of Mother Mary. Elizabeth says, “For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy” (Luke 1:44). Again, imagine the scene. It was this tiny child within Elizabeth’s womb, John the Baptist, who immediately perceived the presence of the Lord and leaped for joy. And it was Elizabeth who immediately perceived the joy in her child living within her womb. As Elizabeth expressed this to Mary, who was already joyful at completing her journey, Mary was suddenly all the more overjoyed at the realization that she had brought to Elizabeth and John the Savior of the World living within her womb.
This story should teach us much about what is most important in life. Yes, it’s important to reach out in love to others. It’s important to care for our relatives and friends when they need us the most. It’s important to be sacrificial with our time and energies for the good of others, because through these acts of humble service, we certainly share the love of God. But most importantly, we must bring Christ Jesus Himself to others. Elizabeth was not filled with joy first and foremost because Mary was there to help her in her pregnancy. Rather, she was overjoyed primarily because Mary brought her Jesus, her Lord, living within her womb.
Though we do not bring Christ in the same way as our Blessed Mother did, we nonetheless must make this our central mission in life. First, we must foster a love and devotion to our Lord so deep that He truly dwells within us. Then, we must bring Him who dwells within us to others. This is unquestionably the greatest act of charity we will ever be able to offer to another.
Reflect, today, not only upon your mission to invite your Lord to dwell within you as our Blessed Mother did but also upon your Christian duty to then bring Him who dwells within you to others. Do others encounter Christ living within you with joy? Do they sense His presence in your life and respond with gratitude? Regardless of their response, commit yourself to this holy calling of bringing Christ to others as an act of the deepest love.
Lord, please do dwell within me. Come and transform me by Your holy presence. As You do come to me, help me to then become a missionary of Your divine presence by bringing You to others so that they may encounter the joy of Your presence. Make me a pure instrument, dear Lord, and use me to inspire all whom I encounter every day. Jesus, I trust in You.
O Antiphons of Advent
Traditionally prayed 15 times a day from November 30 through Christmas Eve.
Saint of the Day – Saint Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor