On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear the reading of the visitation, which is the second decade of the joyful mysteries. There is something beautiful and mysterious about pregnancy—just a mother knowing that she’s pregnant, that this child is growing within her. I’ll never forget the first time that I got to feel a baby’s kick on a mother’s belly. It was one of my younger sisters. And to not only feel the baby’s movement but also to see some of the foot and some of that action. It helped me realize that this is real. I was going to have a real sister. This is a real baby, a natural person inside of her. And so, as we reflect on this Gospel, I’d like you to think about your own experience of either motherhood yourself or fatherhood or someone that you know that is pregnant if you’ve ever been able to have that experience of feeling a baby move inside of mother’s tummy.
And there are three things that I’d like to reflect on with this gospel. The first is the word haste, so what it means to go in haste, the second is leapt, so John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s womb, and the final is a profession of faith. That Elizabeth can say blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. She says, how could this happen to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me. So she makes the first proclamation of faith, already knowing that it is Jesus, that is, God in the womb from the very moment of conception. So, to begin with, Mary set out in haste. Hence, she just had the Annunciation happen to her, the angel just revealed God’s plan, that she would carry Christ in her, and the angel also reveals that her cousin Elizabeth is already pregnant with John the Baptist and to go to her. And so we hear that Mary sets out in haste. Well, she had to travel over 90 miles. It would be at least a four-day walk to go from where she was to Judah. And we hear that she went in haste, which means she traveled immediately. And not only traveled immediately but probably went with great excitement, wonder, and awe. She would see her cousin and share this experience of what just happened to her and what she knows happened to Elizabeth. And so she goes with great haste, with great excitement, with great joy, with great anticipation.
Now I see a lot of you are probably traveling for the holidays, and maybe you’re going to see your cousins, you’re going to see your relatives, and you’re going to see your family. Sometimes traveling can be overwhelming because you’re trying to get to so many places, homes, or houses or however that may be for your family and your friends. But just try to remember that as you go in haste to all of these places to go with excitement, to go to be together with this family that God has providentially placed you with. And go in haste, realizing that you will carry God within you as you leave the Eucharist today. And you’re going to go in haste to your relatives and your family, and when they experience Christ within you, something extraordinary is going to happen. So maybe you have a difficult family situation, perhaps there is tension, maybe there are things you want to avoid or people you want to avoid. Just try to realize that God has placed you in this situation with this family, with the friends you have, and go in haste with the possibility and potential that there just may be something wonderful that God is doing in you. Then, hopefully in them, but especially in you because you received the Eucharist today.
Now you will go forth to the world with Christ. You are going to bear Christ to other people. I also think it’s an excellent image for coming to mass and coming with haste to mass. Now by that, I don’t mean to arrive late and to rush yourself, but to come excited, to come joyful, to come with great anticipation that you are going to encounter Christ in the body of the gathered assembly. In the word that we hear and in the Eucharist, in the Priest. You are going to come together to experience Christ. So come in haste to the Eucharist and go in haste to those that you love. So yes, Mary traveled in haste, and she went over 90 miles over a four-day walk; she just had conceived, and she gets to Elizabeth about four days later and when she enters the house of Zechariah and greets Elizabeth and when Elizabeth hears, notice it’s interesting when Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting, the infant in her womb leapt for joy. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. So Elizabeth has this influx or infilling of the Holy Spirit, and the infant in her womb leaps for Joy. Now I looked up in Greek what leap means, and probably the most literal definition that you could have jumped for joy. So, John, the Baptist, jumped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb. And she was filled with the Holy Spirit. We have this line from the rosary where she says, “blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” So Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, and she can give this blessing to Mary. So jump for joy, to leap. The infant leaped in her womb. Why did the infant leaped in her womb at the voice of Mary? Because Mary is Theotokos which means Mother of God, so he heard the voice of the Mother of God and leapt in Elizabeth’s womb. That’s how it ought to be for us when we listen to the voice of our Mother Mary; that is how it ought to be for us when we encounter Christ when he is so close to us that we leap for joy.
Just imagine right now we’re going to experience him in the Eucharist. We should all come here leaping for joy. And so, as we come to these last days of Advent, I would just offer you that meditation as well as to try to look for Christ and to try to encounter him in moments that cause you to leap for joy. So try to, no matter how old you are, become like a child and when you get excited, joyful, or hopeful about something, literally leap for joy and let yourself be filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit. And finally, the third point is that Elizabeth says, “how does this happen to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me” That phrase is very important. The Mother of my Lord. So again, I went back to the Greek, and the original word for Lord was specifically God, so sometimes you can use Lord for King or Lord for different titles, but this word of Lord that she used meant God. So she says that the Mother of my Lord, the mother of my God, should come to me. Now I want to go back and just highlight that Mary was there four days later because she went in haste. Four days after she had conceived, Elizabeth recognized and proclaimed that Mary was Mother of God. She realized that in that womb was a child only four days old. Some would say only cells and only a mass of tissue, but Elizabeth knew a natural person. Not only a natural person but God his very self in Mary’s womb. And so she makes that first proclamation of faith ever when she says Mother of my Lord. We also say that when we pray Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death amen. So she recognizes Mary as the Mother of God, and she acknowledges that Jesus is God within her, days after the conception. And so we go back to us as we come to these final days of Advent. May we have that same haste to want to experience Christ? May we run to these opportunities to meet him either at the Eucharist or when our families gather together. May we jump for joy and excitement when we experience Christ and experience him again.
The Eucharist that we received together today and as you go out into the world that you may bring Christ into the world and that others may leap for joy because of Christ within you. And finally, can we make that same profession of faith that we believe in Jesus, that we believe that God became man in our Mother Mary from the very moment of conception. And may that same sound of greeting reach our ears, may the infants in our wombs leap for joy, and may we carry about Christ today as we go out into this world and look for him in these final days of Advent.