Fourth Sunday of Advent
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Zephaniah 3:14-18; (Psalm) Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18)
Mary and Elizabeth, Our Model for Responding to the Holy Spirit
“Blessed are you who believed!” (Luke 1:45)
When something exciting happens, you can’t contain yourself; you simply have to share the news with someone else. This is what happened with Mary and Elizabeth. They had both experienced something miraculous, and they couldn’t wait to talk with each other about it.
When Mary appeared, Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and cried out words of blessing (Luke 1:41-42). Mary, in reply, offered a prayer of worship to the Lord for all he was doing in her (1:46-55).
Try to imagine the conversation these two women must have had. You can picture them, in their excitement, jumping from the highly spiritual (“Why would God choose me?” “I wonder what this new kingdom is going to be like?”) to very practical (“I’m going to need new clothes!” “Do you know the name of a good midwife?”) and back to the spiritual again. It’s only natural: nothing is more exciting than grace in action!
As natural as it might have been for Mary and Elizabeth, sometimes we have to make the decision to move the conversation to the Lord. But when we do, we’ll find the Spirit opening our eyes and filling us with more of his grace. We’ll find ourselves more excited and energized about our prayer, our works of service, and our love for the Lord.
The church is about evangelizing and growing in holiness. It’s about everyday people responding to the Spirit and working together in love to achieve these ends. Surely Mary and Elizabeth’s time together strengthened both of them for the work that lay ahead. The same can happen for us as we share with each other about the things that God is showing us. It doesn’t have to be deep or profound. We just have to try, and the Holy Spirit will fill us.
“Lord, open our hearts to your work, and open our lips to share your wonders.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- The time for the Messianic prophecies to be fulfilled in unassuming Bethlehem has come. A city that the first reading calls “too small” among the great clans of Judah! How sharply our ideas of greatness and God’s ideas of greatness contrast. What “small” steps can you take to make sure that the Lord is at the center of your plans and activities for Christmas?
- In the Responsorial Psalm, we pray that the Lord would let us “see” his face. In all the activities, and hustle of these last few days before Christmas, what practical steps can you take to spend time with the Lord and “see” his face?
- The author of the Letter to the Hebrews puts these words in the mouth of Christ addressed to his Father: “Behold, I come to do your will.” Sometimes it is difficult to discern the will of the Lord. In spite of this, how can we make these words of Jesus become more of a reality in our own lives?
- The Gospel tells us that Mary is “blessed” because she believed and trusted in God and his words to her. This belief is based on the unshakeable conviction that God is to be trusted, not because we understand, but simply become he is worthy to be trusted. What a great model Mary is. What are the obstacles in your life that can keep you from having a deeper faith and trust in Jesus and from believing in his great love for you and plan for your life? Do you believe that God’s grace is sufficient for you to overcome these obstacles? Why or why not?
- The meditation ends with these words, “Surely Mary and Elizabeth’s time together strengthened both of them for the work that lay ahead. The same can happen for us as we share with each other about the things that God is showing us. It doesn’t have to be deep or profound. We just have to try, and the Holy Spirit will fill us.” What additional steps can you take during the Advent and Christmas season to share your faith with family members and others?
- Take some time now to pray for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit and a new boldness in sharing your faith with others. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.