22 December 2021
Reflection by Bp. Elmer Belmonte
“Advent is the time when God breaks in on us with new surprises and touches us with a renewing and restoring power.” Robert Webber
Psalm 72 * 111, 113
2 Samuel 7:1-17
Today’s reading is called “Visitation.” It has been the focus of commentators, painters alike. It yields both the memorable response of Elizabeth and the poem uttered by the Blessed Virgin, which has been in used communal prayers and chanted since the 8th century.
The two women are related to each other but are different women. Both are insignificant, unknown creatures, feeble, and not at all equal. Mary was young while Elizabeth was in her old age. Mary was a Virgin while Elizabeth was barren. Both are recipients of God’s promises, respectively, brought about miraculously, alluding to God’s ability to fulfill his promises.
So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?
– Matthew 8:27
Who is this God who makes waters burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert.
– Isaiah 35:6
We can equally say: Who is this God who causes a Virgin to have a child, defying nature’s set pattern, and a barren woman to bear a child in her old age. Both the barrenness of Sarah and the virginity of Mary provided the occasion for the outpouring of God’s power on human inadequacy.
This encounter may seem ordinary, as they had many prior. So there is something very unique with this particular one. So let us call it an “Anointed encounter.”
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped; filled with the Holy Spirit, she said with a loud voice, “Blessed are you among women and Blessed is the fruit of your womb.” The Blessed Virgin Mary, on her part, uttered an anointed song of praise called the Magnificat (Latin), which means “My Soul Magnifies.”
What can we learn from this encounter?
Aware of the work of the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t it be wonderful if human encounters could be similarly anointed!
The great Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Ephesus, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:19 NKJV.
Heavenly Father, thank you for calling and gathering your people around the Holy Table of the Eucharist, grant that we may always be aware of presence by your Holy Spirit that we may sing hymns and spiritual songs to You and edify one another. Raise among us composers, singers, and musicians to compose, sing and play to the glory of your Name. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN.
• The Great Promise: Luke 1 by: Karl Barth
• Brazos Theological Commentary on Luke by David Lyle Jeffrey
• The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, 2nd Edition by Donald K. McKim