Late Advent Weekday — December 21
Song of Songs 2:8-14 [or Zephaniah 3:14-18] + Luke 1:39-45
“Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
Today and tomorrow’s Gospel Readings together form the narrative of the Visitation. Whenever we pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, this event is the object of meditation for the second decade. Today’s Gospel Reading is the more narrative of the two passages, focusing upon the interaction between Mary and Elizabeth.
Almost half of today’s Gospel Reading consists of Elizabeth’s words to Mary. About these words, the evangelist tells us that Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice.” This fact makes the scene more dramatic, drawing more attention not only to Elizabeth’s words, but also to what provoked her words.
In Elizabeth’s cry, we hear the word “blessed” three times. These three instances focus for us the entire scene of the Visitation. The first two occur in the same sentence, where Elizabeth cries to Mary: “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Mary and Jesus are united in being “blessed”, yet Mary receives this blessing from Jesus when He descends from Heaven. On the other hand, Mary and Jesus are united by their shared humanity, which Jesus receives from Mary in her womb.
The third instance of “blessed” in this passage describes Mary in a way that offers hope to each Christian. Each member of the Body of Christ receives from Him a unique place among the Body’s members. Not every Christian is “blessed” to be the Mother of God. Yet God calls every Christian to be “blessed” by imitating that fidelity of Mary of which Elizabeth cries: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”