Advent, 21st December, Monday

 Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18 / Luke 1:39-45 

The time is near: My lover comes leaping over the hills 

A popular film scene is an aerial view of two lovers, some distance apart, running toward each other with open arms. The length of the scene can vary, depending on how far apart the lovers are. Sometimes the director heightens the tension by doing the scene in slow motion. ’Alien the two lovers finally meet, they are swept up into each other’s arms.

Today’s reading sets before us an image very much like this.

It compares Christ’s coming on Christmas and our going forth to meet him to two lovers running toward each other. When you think about it, that image is a lovely one for expressing the tension and excitement of the days immediately before Christmas.


Few things, if any, are more beautiful on the human and the divine level than the encounter between persons. An encounter is a great joy and grace. The first reading speaks of the encounter between a suitor and the young woman he loves; this is probably an image of the love between God and Israel. In the gospel, Elizabeth encounters Mary; even the unborn John the Baptist encounters the Savior and his mother. Deeper than meetings between people in business, science, politics, or their jobs, are the understanding, love and sharing of real human encounters. This is the kind of encounter that awaits us with the Lord on Christmas and in this Eucharist. Encounters are even deeper when God is present in them.


Do we see Christmas as a meeting of lovers? “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” John 3:16


Falling birth rates are a cause of concern to a nation and to a country. It will have repercussions on the economy, the workforce, the aging population and other areas of society. But the underlying concern is about hope - hope for the present, as well as hope for the future. That is why a pregnancy and the birth of a child is not only good news and an occasion for celebration, it is also a celebration of hope.

In the gospel, we hear of two pregnant women in a joyful meeting in spite of the challenging circumstances. Mary had her pregnancy confirmed by Elizabeth, and Elizabeth had this honour of being visited by the mother of her Lord.

Both expectant mothers are celebrating the gift of life as well as celebrating their hope in the Lord. Both are celebrating their joyful hope for the present as well as for the future. May Mary's and Elizabeth's joyful hope also be our joyful hope as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Saviour. Because Jesus came to give us hope, for the present as well as for the future.


Opening Prayer

God, we tend to lose ourselves in the bustle and stir of the day, in our work and our petty worries. Give us the freshness of heart to look for the things that matter, those that make our lives deeply human and at the same time, open us to your world and to your values. Make us long to encounter you with joy, that we may discover again the quality of gratuitous giving, of respect, and of carefree self-forgetting love, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.