Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Fourth Sunday of Advent

ghirlandaio visitation.jpg

 Luke 1: 39-44

“Why should I be honoured?”

To appreciate today’s Gospel we need to remember the story of the annunciation, when Mary accepted to become the mother of God’s own Son, and was told that her cousin Elizabeth “has, in her old age, herself conceived a son”. Mary’s first reaction to the great gift and privilege bestowed upon her is concern for someone else. She anticipates the attitude that Jesus himself would later demonstrate when he constantly went out of his way to care for those in any kind of need.

In her womb God comes to Elizabeth and to the child she is expecting, prompting Elizabeth’s “Why I should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?” We may well ask the same question: “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should care for me?” “Who am I that the Lord himself should come to me, to make his home in me, to feed me and be at one with me?” The only possible answer to those questions is the heart of the Gospel message: “Only Love does such a thing”.

And that same Love in us calls us to be loving to others, to follow Mary’s example and turn privilege into concern.Today’s Gospel, with Mary’s example set before us, and Elizabeth’s question ringing in our ears, makes us go beyond the sentimentalism and commercialism that surround this ‘festive season’. It helps us to grasp that this yearly celebration of the birth of Jesus recalls us to the heart of our faith and illustrates how we are to respond to it.