Fourth Sunday in Advent 2021


The Visitation, Della Robia, from an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston,
photo by Marina McCoy

In today’s gospel reading we hear about Mary going to stay with Elizabeth during part of her pregnancy. I love this story about friendship between two women and the ways that they support one another in pregnancy as women have done across different cultures and time periods. The pregnancy also points to the ways in which Christ even in his hiddenness nonetheless shows forth himself. Elizabeth sees that Christ is present in Mary but her recognition arises from her own child leaping in her own womb. Elizabeth, of course, was bearing a child on her own age and yet she must have wondered whether the child was present or viable. I recall with both my own pregnancies the reassurance of feeling my children kicking and moving and how it reminded me that they were still alive and well.

But here the story goes even deeper as it’s the mutual recognition of the other person’s being pregnant, that leads to self-recognition. Elizabeth has a kind of encounter with Christ through Mary—and this helps her also to find what is holy in herself.

The passage leads me to reflect on the following questions which I also invite you to reflect on.

Where have I encountered the living Christ in my own world?

Where have I found that such an encounter enlivens or awakens recognition of something in myself with which I am “expectant”?

Where is Christ present in my current relationships, or in my political community, and where does Christ remain hidden?

Have a blessed Fourth Sunday in Advent!