Advent 2015 – IV. SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Mary’s visit to Elizabeth
Luke 1:39 Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah.
Luke 1:40 She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.
Luke 1:41 Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:42 She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
Luke 1:43 Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?
Luke 1:44 Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.
Luke 1:45 Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’
Note on v. 41: Nothing is said about the two unborn children subsequently having contact with each other. In later life John apparently did not know Jesus very closely (Jn. 1:31; Lk. 7:19) and there is no hint in the subsequent narrative that they were related.
Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. Mary responded to the angelic message by going to stay with Elizabeth until just before the birth of her child. Mary’s visit provided further confirmation of the message in that she was greeted by Elizabeth apparently spontaneously with a blessing. She realized that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah, and she was overjoyed that she should visit her. She praised Mary for accepting the angel’s word. Even the movements of the foetus in her womb were seen as a response to Mary’s arrival.
Mary’s poetic reply is known as the ‘Magnificat’ (the Latin verb for ‘glorifies’). It uses the form and language of a Jewish psalm and is saturated with echoes of OT praise to God. Inspiration for the words came from 1 Sa. 2:1-10, the song of Hannah after God had given her a child.
The shape of the song is that a shout of ex ultation to God is followed by a series of clauses indicating why he is to be praised. After the briefest reference to Mary’s own reason for thanksgiving, the song tells of what God does for his people, speaking quite concretely of his judgments on the mighty and his blessings for the humble—all in fulfilment of his promises to his people long ago. The past tenses in vs 51-54 most probably express what God is going to do in the future through the Messiah—actions that have already begun to take place in that the Messiah has already been conceived, and actions that are of the same kind as what God has done in the past history of Israel. This is thus a metaphorical description of the work of Jesus.
Teach me to listen by John Veltri, S.J.
Teach me to listen, O God, to those nearest me, my family, my friends, my co-workers.
Help me to be aware that no matter what words I hear, the message is, “Accept the person I am. Listen to me.”
Teach me to listen, my caring God, to those far from me– the whisper of the hopeless, the plea of the forgotten, the cry of the anguished.
Teach me to listen, O God my Mother, to myself. Help me to be less afraid to trust the voice inside — in the deepest part of me.
Teach me to listen, Holy Spirit, for your voice — in busyness and in boredom, in certainty and doubt, in noise and in silence.
Teach me, Lord, to listen. Amen.
Making the Connection
Lower branches/age sections
Young children are born with an innate trust for parents and caregivers. We can help them learn extend this spirit of trust to God.
Preparation for SundayScriptureReadings
1. Before starting, choose two children and go over with them how to act out a frightened child jumping into a swimming pool and being caught by a parent.
2. Invite the two children to dramatize the situation and ask the group to guess what’s happening. Ask them how the child who’s jumping feels. Ask them to talk about how they learned to swim. Lead into a discussionabouttrusting the instructor.
3. Then say: Mary trusted God when she agreed to be the mother of Jesus. She wasn’t sure what it would be like, but she knew that God would take care of her. After Mary said yes to God, she went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was also going to have a baby. Listen as I read from the Gospel and hear what Elizabeth called Mary when she saw her.
4. Read today’s Gospel, Luke 1:39-45.
5. Ask: What did Elizabeth call Mary? (blessed) Why do you think that Elizabeth called Mary blessed? (because she was to be the mother of Jesus; because Mary trusted God and said yes when God asked her to be the mother of his Son, Jesus) Say: There is another word that we use to call someone blessed; that word ishappy.We can be happy like Mary if we trust that God is always taking care of us.
6. Conclude in prayer together that we will always trust God and therefore be happy like Mary. Pray for Mary’s help by praying the Hail Mary.
One way that older children learn to trust God is by witnessing the ways others in their lives trust God. In the story of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, we find an opportunity to observe ways in which people show their trust that God’s promises will be fulfilled.
Preparation for SundayScriptureReadings
1. Say: You know that Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. We will understand today’s Gospel better if we take some time to remember the story about how Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. Let’s work together to tellthis story.
2. Pass a beanbag among the children. Tell them that when they have the beanbag, they can offer one sentence telling how Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. Help as needed until the story of the Annunciation is told (Luke 1:26-38).
3. Say: Mary trusted that God’s promises to her would be fulfilled. Today’s Gospel tells the story of what Mary did next. Let’slistencarefully to this Gospel.
4. Invite one or more volunteers to read today’s Gospel, Luke 1:39-45.
5. Ask: What did Elizabeth call Mary? (blessed) Why do you think that Elizabeth called Mary blessed? (because she was to be the mother of Jesus; because Mary trusted God and said yes when God asked her to be the mother of his Son, Jesus) Say: There is another word that we use to call someone blessed; that word is happy.
6. Ask: Are there people in your life who trust God? Who are they? How do you know that they trust God? (Accept all reasonable answers.) We can be happy like Mary if we trust that God is always taking care of us.
7. Pray together that Mary will help us trust in God’s promises as she did. Pray the Hail Mary.
Young people are still learning how to put the events and circumstances of their lives into perspective. One way we can help them learn to do this is to teach them to look for and recognize God’s action in their daily lives.
· A word search or a hidden-picture puzzle
Preparation for SundayScriptureReadings
1. Show the young people the word search or hidden-picture puzzle. Ask if anyone has ever done this kind of puzzle before. Talk about their experiences doing these kinds of puzzles. Ask questions such as the following: Has anyone ever gotten stuck when trying to do these kinds of puzzles? What helps us find the hidden words or pictures? How can others help us when we are doing these kinds of puzzles? Is it easier to work on these puzzles alone or with others?
2. Say: Sometimes finding God in our lives can feel like doing a word search or hidden-picture puzzle. Our faith tells us that God is present in our lives, but we may not readily see God or God’s actions. When that happens, we may need help to find God. Often we can find that help from other people. In today’s Gospel, we hear about Mary’s visit to her cousin, Elizabeth. These women helped one another see God working in their lives. Let’slisten to this Gospel.
3. Invite one or more volunteers to read today’s Gospel, Luke 1:39-45.
4. Ask: Do you remember what led Mary to visit Elizabeth? (The angel Gabriel told her that her cousin, Elizabeth, was with child.) What was this a sign of? (that Mary herself was to bear a child; that nothing is impossible with God) What did Elizabeth say happened at the sound of Mary’s greeting? (Elizabeth’s child leapt for joy.) Note that this child was John the Baptist.
5. Say: Mary traveled to see Elizabeth because Elizabeth’s pregnancy was a sign that everything the angel told Mary would truly happen. Elizabeth and Mary rejoiced together at the wonderful things God was doing in their lives. We too are blessed when we have people who help us recognize God’s action in our lives. Think now if there are people in your life who help you in this way. This is one of the things people try to do for one another in our Church community.
6. Conclude in prayer thanking God for people who help us recognize God’s presence and action in our lives. Pray together the Prayer to the HolySpirit.