Elizabeth and Mary and Us
(4th Sunday of Advent: Micah 5:1-4; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45)
The opening lines of Micah’s prophecy about Bethlehem, in today’s first reading, are best remembered as the text used by the scholars of Jerusalem to tell the Magi where to look for the Christ child. Bethlehem played a significant role in salvation history.
But the rest of the text is equally important. Two phrases stand out in particular: “she who is to give birth,” and “he shall be peace.” These, too, point to Bethlehem, but in today’s Gospel they can be heard, so to speak, at a town in the hill country. less than five miles from Jerusalem.
Mary and Elizabeth can both be identified as “she who is to give birth.” As for their children, Jesus “shall be peace,” while John will be, like Micah, a prophet to announce the Lord’s coming.
Elizabeth’s words, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,” were incorporated (along with the greeting of the Angel Gabriel) into the Hail Mary in its earliest forms. We can imagine those scenes when we say this prayer.
The second part of the Hail Mary is clearly reflected at La Salette, when Our Lady tells us that she prays for us without ceasing—which is the same as when we say, “now and at the hour of our death.”
Her prayer is “for us sinners,” i.e. for our forgiveness, and that we may prepare to meet the Lord with clean hearts and converted souls, beginning now and until death.
We always call Our Lady of La Salette the Beautiful Lady, or the Weeping Mother, but today let us think of her as she who is to give birth or, as Elizabeth says, “the mother of my Lord.” Luke tells us Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit when she heard Mary’s greeting. She received a spiritual gift (charism) that prompted her to speak in a prophetic way.
Mary’s greeting at La Salette brought with it a peaceful spirit, calming the fears of Mélanie and Maximin. It drew them to her, opening them to hear her great news, empowering them to make it known.
In this same spirit, let us press forward eagerly on our Advent journey to Bethlehem, and invite others to join us and be introduced to our Savior.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.