The Gospel Today
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
Reflection (Sem. Jeffrey A. Danan)
In Pampanga, we have this tradition of “lamak” and “pabakal” or the “pakimkim” that we give when we visit homes of friends of acquaintances. Usually, it is an exchange of goods, food or anything between the visitor and the person being visited. We also do this during the visitation of the sick, newborns and other festivities. It is part of the Kapampangan practice in most occasions.
To me, this is an example of a “journey of service” just like in today’s Gospel: the visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. It delivered gladness and joyful healing to the latter who, at her age, needed comfort for her pregnancy. The moment Elizabeth saw Mary, she greeted the latter and the baby in Elizabeth’s womb recognized the Messiah in Mary’s womb. They were filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, then Elizabeth exclaimed these words, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
These were simple words that became extraordinary and a part of the most recognizable prayer next to Our Father – Mary’s “Magnificat,” which is said during the daily evening prayer.
It was just an ordinary event that led to extraordinary things. Sometimes, our simple but pure acts of generosity lead to a very meaningful healing.
Part of our seminary formation is the apostolate of presence. It is where we are assigned to foster families and live with them and their community. Just like what Mary has done, it is a “journey of service,” a visit to a family and to be one with them in their happiness and sadness.
The Gospel is an invitation for us to be like Mary through our presence. May we bring aid and healing to the needy, and God’s presence into the lives of others.