Reflection for the Vigil of the Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 19, 2015

By Sheila Carroll, OSB

Sister Sheila CarrollTonight, we hear of a Blessed Visitation and of two expectant, uncommon mothers.  Mary, after agreeing to be the mother of the Lord is given a surprise announcement by the Archangel Gabriel, telling her that her cousin, Elizabeth, is in her sixth month of pregnancy. Seemingly, before telling anyone about her agreement to be the mother of Jesus, Mary goes to be with Elizabeth.  Together, these future mothers, would listen, pray and talk about what was happening. 

Sister Jeanne Ranek, OSB writes that we must look at a renewed consciousness, a contemplative, mystic consciousness.  In this way we will experience new ways of being in a new emerging life. She believes that, “The prophetic call to monasticism for our time requires contemplative vision; it is part of living the ‘good zeal’ recommended to us in Chapter 72 of the Rule.”  Perhaps we need to pause and listen to Karl Rahner, SJ who tells us, “In this century we will be mystics or cease to exist.”  The mystics point to new questions.  The monastery provides a framework for them, for us.

And so, today, we look to Mary, Mother of Mystics.  Murray Bodo, OFM writes “If the mystic is one who experiences in an extraordinary way the intimacy with God offered to everyone, then Mary is the model and pattern of the mystical life.”  Mary, literally, carries God in her womb and gives birth to him.  Spiritual impregnation, gestation, and giving birth are the initial stages of the mystical life.  God invades our life, when we are not expecting it and we embrace that gift.  Murray Bodo, OFM continues, “Even if we are tempted to hoard it as ours alone, God will be born from us; we will serve others as a result of God’s own indwelling love.” 

Using your imagination, see Mary at prayer or perhaps at work and here is an Archangel, in bright light, who says, “Greetings, favored one!  The Lord is with you.”  (Luke 1:28)  After being chosen to be the Mother of Jesus and, somehow, convinced, Mary says, “Let it be done unto me, according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) She then sets out into the hill country to visit her cousin Elizabeth. When she enters Elizabeth’s house, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cries out, “ Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb…and blessed is she, who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord. (Luke 1: 42, 45)  The key to this Visitation is that, it is not only a meeting of the two future mothers, but also, the first meeting of the two baby boys they are carrying inside of them.  Jesus and John also meet.  In particular, it is the child within, and Mary that make this a Blessed Visitation.  After the Archangel Gabriel turned her life upside down, Mary needed the counsel of someone she could trust. She found this in being with Elizabeth.  This is a meeting of two great women of faith.  Both Mary and Elizabeth stand out as wonderful examples for us.  They believe the Lord’s words, and they receive his gifts.  The Holy Spirit will work such a Mary and Elizabeth faith in you, too.  Do you accept God’s call and use the gifts given you?