If today’s gospel sounds not only familiar but brings about the thought, “didn’t I just hear that gospel….?” – you are correct. It is a scene from Luke’s gospel called the Visitation when Mary goes in haste to the hill country to see her relative Elizabeth, mother-to-be of John the Baptist. It was proclaimed as the gospel in the Sunday just past, and is the traditional reading for the 4th Tuesday in Advent.At the celebrations of the 4th Sunday in Advent, in St. Francis of Assisi parish, there were four different homilies with four different approaches plumbing different riches from the gospel. They hardly scratched the surface of wealth of God’s word in this simple passage. Cardinal Walter Caspar offered that, in the scene, Mary is providing a model of Church.
Mary has received and accepted the Word about her role in salvation history. With haste she takes the good news into the world. The Word is received and becomes a moment of exuberance and joy for Elizabeth and for the child in her womb. The one overshadowed by the Spirit and full of grace, brings the Spirit to those who would receive it. Mary is the Christ-bearer to the world. Mary is the one whose witness and light bring the light of Christ to a world in waiting.
Indeed, a model of what we are called to be a Church: Christ bearers to a waiting world.