Give it all to God, who is present to you now just as you are, and beholds you in tremendous love
For a few moments settle yourself and let your body and mind become still. Allow all your attention to focus on how you are feeling at this time, noticing how you feel in the different parts of your body. As you do so, give it all to God, who is present to you now just as you are, and beholds you in tremendous love.
This week's reading is from the Gospel of Luke.
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’
Hospitality, whether we give it or receive it, lifts the spirit and cultivates gratitude
- Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who appreciated the company and help of someone in a similar situation. Their time together was joyful. Can you think of a time somebody came to your help or a time that you went to the help of another? Hospitality, whether we give it or receive it, lifts the spirit and cultivates gratitude. A visit to a friend and spending quality time with them can be a joyful experience, just like spending quality time with God.
- Elizabeth's joy came not just from Mary’s presence but from experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit. When we share our presence with other people we also share the gifts of the Spirit, big and small, which we enjoy. It is important to acknowledge and say ‘yes’ to the gifts God has given us, and to cultivate them so that they can yield fruit for the kingdom of God. As we hear in Galatians: “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23).
- The baby leapt in Elizabeth's womb, we are told, and that image is richly symbolic. It indicates the meeting of the Old and the New Testament. John, the last of the prophets in the Old Testament tradition, meets the Messiah, the new prophet, and leaps with joy in the womb. This joy, Good News for all people, has spread through the centuries to this very day.
Talk to God
Do you want to ask God for a particular intention or blessing?
- Both Elizabeth and Mary knew that God was intervening in their lives in a profound way. They likely spent time pondering the mystery of it. No doubt they also talked for hours, wondering about the sons who would soon be the focus of their lives. Put yourself in the scene and try to imagine what both women are saying. Can you think of how God may be intervening in your life at the present time?
- The first words of Elizabeth to Mary were to bless her and to give thanks to God. She acknowledged Mary's faith, how she heard the Word of God and believed it. Their shared prayer encouraged them both to believe that all that was promised would be fulfilled. Our prayer can be a blessing that we send to everyone we think of today. Do you want to ask God for a particular intention or blessing?
- We never hear of Elizabeth and Mary meeting again. Their sons would meet, and Jesus would say of John that nobody better was ever born. Jesus would have heard from Mary about her visit to Elizabeth. He would have known there was something special about John, just as there is something special about all of us. Take a few moments to get in touch with your unique talents and abilities, to ponder how you can use them to bring Good News to those you encounter this Christmas.
Lord and Ruler,
Root of Jesse,
Key of David,
King of the Nations,
Emmanuel, Come Jesus.