The Visitation

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On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we are so near to Christmas. This gospel is so appropriate because it is the visitation. Many of us will probably see family at some point over our break. As we celebrate Christmas, I want you to think about whom it is that you are going to be visiting.

Not only whom you will be visiting, but what you will bring to the situation. I do not mean presents. What I really mean is what you received today at the Eucharist. In the gospel today, we hear that Mary traveled in haste to go see her cousin Elizabeth. The line before this is when Jesus is conceived to Mary. She also hears that Elizabeth, who is in old age, has also conceived.

I know that I have not been pregnant before, but I have sisters that have been pregnant. During this time, they are full of joy.  They are so excited to tell their family that they are pregnant. I can only imagine what this might have been like for Mary because she had this amazing miracle happen.

She was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary probably thought that the only one that can understand this is Elizabeth because she too, in her old age, conceived a child through this wonderful grace of God.

So, there is an excitement that occurs when we get to be with family and relatives. There is excitement when we get to share this life that we received today at the Eucharist. What I have and can experience with all of you is the receiving of the Eucharist. In today’s mass, you will come forward as you receive communion.

Christ will come into you in a very wonderful way, and you will bear Christ. You will have Christ in you like a mother has a child in her womb. There is something beautiful that happens when we bear Christ and go to others realizing that. When Mary went to see Elizabeth and she greeted Elizabeth, the infant in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy.

So, John the Baptist, in her womb, leaped for joy. Then, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. We hear this wonderful praise that becomes the Hail Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Elizabeth is so perplexed, she says, “How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy”.

I want you to realize that same reality can happen when you go to your families. When you go to them and realize that you have Christ within you, they can be filled with the Holy Spirit and leap for joy as well. I know that sometimes we are not always looking forward to being with family.

Sometimes there can be a little bit of stress, but I think it is so good that we realize what we bring to the table. A lot of times when we go to see people or go to see family we bring our emptiness and expect them to fill us, which they are not capable of doing. God can fill you. The wonderful thing is, as you receive him in the Eucharist today and you go forth into the world, you will touch so many lives if you keep that awareness.

People will also be filled with the Holy Spirit because you carry Christ within you. As we have these final hours of Advent and we prepare for this Christmas where Christ will come into us, we hear the final line of the gospel: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Have a wonderful remainder of Advent and allow Christ to come into you this Christmas.

About the Author Fr. Michael Denk

Fr. Michael was ordained into priesthood in the Diocese of Cleveland on May 12, 2007. He is dedicated to helping others encounter Christ through the celebration of the Eucharist, preaching, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spiritual direction, and prayer.

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I'm Father Michael J. Denk, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. I am a contributor of content to The Prodigal Father Productions, Inc., a non-profit corporation functioning in accord with the traditions and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The corporation and I are separate, it doesn't speak for me, the parish, or on behalf of the Diocese of Cleveland, and I do not speak for it.