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Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 22, 2018

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord.

May it be done to me according to your word.

Alleluia, Alleluia.


A reading from the holy Gospel according to St. Luke 1: 39-45

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said:

          “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your           womb.  And 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

          Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

The Gospel of the Lord


REFLECTION by Monsignor Joseph T. Marino

Regardless of the fact that the Gospel today is only six verses long, it is jam-packed with significant elements of our faith.  On this Fourth Sunday of Advent our holy Church through her Sacred Liturgy begins in earnest the immediate preparations for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas.

Saint Luke’s story of Mary and Elizabeth is not so much a recounting of two relatives expecting their first child coming together to support one another.  The Gospel is a proclamation of who Jesus is!  Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit becomes the voice of the Evangelist Saint Luke by proclaiming the Good News (Gospel) that the child in the womb of Mary is the Lord!  Even before His birth, those of faith recognized that the child to be born was the Messiah and Lord God!  Indeed, we know that the only reason Jesus was born was to die in sacrifice so we might live eternally.

Mary and Elizabeth, like the Church at Mass gathered to praise God for the work that God was doing in and through them.  This Gospel does not proclaim merely a past event of two mothers-to-be.  No, the story is about you and me who repeatedly gather on each Sunday to praise God for the work He does in and through us.  We are all mothers-to-be because we carry within us the Word of God to be proclaimed in our words and deeds – that is, to be brought to birth in and through our lives!

John the Baptist’s leaping for joy (the infant in my womb leaped for joy) foreshadowed the significant and life-giving relationship between Jesus and John, and represented all those who anxiously awaited then and now for the coming of the Lord.  For when he comes, either at the end of time or in the midst of our daily activities of prayer and charity, the faithful always leap with excitement and joy.

Saint Luke in telling of the births of John and Jesus provides for us the biblical roots of the beautiful prayer of Mary that we use so often, the Hail Mary.  Today we hear:  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your wombJesus!

In addition, the Gospel exposes the fundamental basis for the praise that Jesus showered on His mother, and the ultimate reason for the Church’s praise of Mary.  Rightly so, we laud her for being the mother of Jesus, but the root of our significant praise of Mary is revealed in the words of Elizabeth: Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.   Our great devotion and love for Mary is found in her willingness to believe that what God said would happen.   Mary is the shining example of faith; Mary is the model of Discipleship; Mary is what we all want to be: Believers in God’s WordHail Mary!

As we spend these last days preparing by way of prayer and acts of charity for the beautiful celebration of Christmas, imbedded in all our hearts is our deepest desire to believe the Word of GodJesus is the Word of God.  Jesus, the Word of God reveals the unbelievable love that God has for us.   In this Way, and in His Way: All flesh shall see the salvation of God!  


Monsignor Joseph Marino





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