If today's gospel sounds familiar, it's because we just heard it on Sunday! (And, we've also heard it earlier in Advent too.) But, at times, we need God's Word to come back at us again so that it moves us from thought to action.
Mary shows us that faith in God isn't solely a private relationship or even one that takes place with our brothers and sisters at the Rosary or Mass. Our Blessed Mother takes her faith and Jesus out from the comfort and security of her home to share it with her cousin Elizabeth, her unborn child John, and we can assume Zechariah, Elizabeth's husband, was there too.
Most likely, if you're celebrating this Mass with us, you're a person of faith, a person like Mary who God has called to a personal relationship, a friendship. And, like many of our friendships, God wants it to be an active one, not just planning to do good, but one that generates faith and hope in God that leads to charity in His Name.
Today in the world's Northern Hemisphere, we mark the winter solstice—the shortest amount of daylight for the year. Low temperatures combined with less sunlight can cause us to feel uninspired. Still, today's readings begin with the prophet Zephaniah who calls us to shout and sing joyfully—because God removes judgment, protects, and renews us in His love for us. God speaks to us by saying, "Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!" Zephaniah 3:16.
Sometimes our discouragement keeps us from acting on what God calls us to do. God knows, and so He reminds us that He is with us. Just like a caring family member or friend can give us that boost of energy or confidence that we need, God's grace, even more so, is here for us through His Word and Eucharist.
Amidst the busyness of these last days of the Advent Season, we all need to be renewed, recharged, and sometimes calmed down—just look at drivers in store parking lots or in people in lines waiting to check out! Think about the last conversation you had with a family member, friend, or co-worker.
My brothers and sisters, Mary, overcame her concerns because she believed in God's promise to her and each of us—to be with us. Mary's action of visiting Elizabeth while pregnant with Jesus resulted in the joy expressed by Elizabeth, which is spoken to this day around the world each time we pray the Hail Mary.
Who is it that God is calling us to bring the joy of Jesus to this day? Most likely, we won't need to travel far, perhaps just into the next room in our home.
About Father David Marcham
Reverend David S. Marcham is the Vice Postulator for the Cause of Venerable Patrick Peyton, and Director of the Father Peyton Guild, whose members pray for Father Peyton’s beatification and spread his message of the importance of Family Prayer. Prior to becoming a seminarian, Father David was a physical therapist and clinical instructor, serving hospital inpatients and outpatients throughout the greater Boston area for eleven years. In 1998 he heard the call to priesthood and was ordained in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2005. Father David grew up in Quincy, MA, and has fond memories of playing soccer, tennis and running track. You’re never without a friend when Father David is around, as he welcomes everyone into his circle with a smile on his face!