Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. Luke 1:39
Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is also expecting a baby. Both women, in very different ways, are experiencing extraordinary pregnancies: Mary, scarcely an adult, conceives her baby by the power of the Holy Spirit; Elizabeth, barren and long past child-bearing age, suddenly finds herself able to have a child after all. What seems to the world to be impossible has become possible through God's power.
The story of these two ordinary women, whose experiences defy rational explanation, are an inspiration for us.
• Do I have the courage and vision to see beyond what is tangible and believe that God can work miracles in my life?
• Do I believe that a new world is possible where everyone is treated fairly and there is enough for all?
• Am I ready to work to help bring about this new world, the Kingdom of God, here and now?
Mary's Magnificat - a joyful song of praise to God - announces a better way; Mary's Magnificat reveals the Kingdom right here and now on earth as God planned it;
Mary sings praise to God whose mercy is boundless; Mary sings praise to God whose love is constant from generation to generation; Mary sings praise to God who has a special love for the poor and lowly; Mary sings praise to God who fills the hungry and sends the rich away empty; Mary sings praise to God who has promised to love and care for his people; Mary sings praise to God for whom nothing is impossible. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
She gave a loud cry and said, 'Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.' Luke 1: 41-42, 45
For the past three weeks we have tried to make space for quiet reflection amidst the hurly burly of the Christmas season with all its pulls on our time and on our purse- strings.
In this final week of Advent we can remind ourselves of what Christmas really means for us as believers: the birth of the promised Saviour.
As we prepare to welcome the Christ child we are challenged to reflect on the truth Jesus brings and to consider our response, inspired by Mary's unconditional 'Yes' to God's plan.
Lord, help me to show your love to those who are hard to care for; to those who reject your love; to those with whom I struggle to feel a sense of solidarity.
For the times I have only loved family and friends and taken no notice of others, I ask your forgiveness.
For the times I missed the opportunity to show your love through fear of looking foolish, I ask your forgiveness.
For the times I have lacked the confidence to approach a newcomer and have been wary of stepping out of my comfort zone, I ask your forgiveness.
Open my heart, Lord, to reach out to everyone in need.
This Advent, I pray that I may be your eyes and ears, your mouth, your hands and feet and your heart.
We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures of our Christmas crib. We must seek him among the undernourished children who have gone to bed tonight without eating, among the poor who will sleep covered with newspapers in the doorway. Archbishop Oscar Romero Christmas 1979
• Set an extra place at the table to remind you of those who go without
food and companionship
• Attend a local Carol Service
• Place a lighted Advent candle in your front window
• Welcome a stranger to your neighbourhood or help at a local refugee
or asylum seekers centre
• Support the Jesuit Refugee Service www.jrsuk.net
• Choose from CAFOD's World Gifts catalogue to help fund a community project www.cafod.org.uk/Give/World-Gifts