Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection 12-22-22

For the 4th Week of Advent, Thursday, 12-22-22, Year A
Readings: First Reading 1 Sam 1:24-28; Ps 1 Sm 2:1,4-7, babcd; Gospel Lk 1:46-56
(Magnificat – Song of Mary or Canticle of Mary)
Theme: Thankfulness

In Galilee, in the town of Nazareth, two servants were preparing for a journey. One said to the other, “Can you believe that we are going to make a   five-day journey South through Samaria and into Judah to a town just outside Jerusalem?” The other replied, “I know, and for what, to see an old woman who has been barren all her life and now is supposedly pregnant!” The first servant, throwing a bundle of tent tarps and poles onto a cart replied, “Yeah, I know and on top of that our Master is pregnant. This trip is dangerous enough for the strongest of travelers, let alone someone in her condition. We had better plan for the worst. Grab some extra blankets and water, we’re going to need them.”

The next morning, the camels were loaded, the carts hooked up and Mary’s mule prepared for the ride. The servants grumbled at the cold and the dew that covered everything. When Mary came out of the house, she looked composed, determined, and joyful. The servant said to his fellow servant, “How does she do that?” “Do what?” said the other servant. “You know, always looking the way she does, like she knows that everything will be ok, and how she does it with joy. I don’t get it.” The other servant, slapping him on the back said, “Well you better get it and get going, or that smile will be our Master telling you that you have to carry the water jars the whole way by yourself!”

They finished what they were doing and went to help Mary mount her mule, but she replied, “You can help me on to the animal later, but now I want to walk with you, as one of you, for we are all the same in God’s eyes. Know that we walk together sharing this journey as a family.”

Mary, calm and collected, reassured the small caravan along the way that all would be ok. She constantly prayed and thanked God, which gave comfort to the wayward servants who only looked at the journey as a hard job, something they were commanded to do. They did not realize that the Savior of the world was in their midst at that very moment. They traveled the entire journey to the surrounding villages of Jerusalem without incident.

When they reached the outskirts of the small town outside of Jerusalem, they were tired and haggard but in good spirits. The servant said to his fellow servant, “I’m beat and glad this trip is over, at least for now. I wonder where we’ll be staying?” The other replied, “Yeah me too, but can you believe that our Master looks and acts the same as the day we left? For being pregnant, that is nothing short of amazing! God’s favor certainly rests on her. Me, not so much.”

They smiled at each other and were just glad to be back in civilization. They were looking forward to seeing the famed city of Jerusalem for neither had ever been this far from home. That was their hope and joy, but little did they know……

The two servants helped Mary down from her mule, set up a small tent, and retrieved some water, a wash bowl, and towels. Mary and her maidservant prepared themselves to meet her cousin, Elizabeth, at the house of her husband, Zechariah.

When everything was ready, they traveled the short distance through town and approached Zechariah’s house and knocked on the door. Almost immediately the door swung open in a hurried fashion and Elizabeth appeared, her clothing a bit snug around her pregnant waist. Mary greeted her but before she could finish her greeting, Elizabeth threw her arms around Mary, tears in her eyes, in an embrace that captured the hearts of all who were there. Something amazing was happening and the two servants looked on in awe and wonder at the two women.

All were silent. Elizabeth, stepping back a bit, yet holding onto Mary’s arms, looked intently at her. Then, taking hold of Mary’s right hand, she put it on her pregnant belly, and in turn, she put her right hand on Mary’s belly and said,

Most 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.
(Lk 1:39-45)

And Mary said to Elizabeth in return,
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the might from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

All looked on in amazement and silence at the two women embracing. At that moment, the Holy Spirit revealed to all there that God, in all His countenance, had been revealed to them. They were the first to witness the proclamation of Christ the Lord and all fell to their knees in thankfulness to God for all He has done and will do.

The two servants never made it to Jerusalem, they did better, they found Zion and the new Jerusalem in a baby yet to be born, whose name would be Jesus. They were forever filled with thankfulness and joy at the gift they had been given.

Mary endured long journeys with joy so she could reveal her Son to all of us every day. In her Magnificat, she thanked God for all He had accomplished through her in His Son Jesus. May this be a reminder to us that our mother, the Virgin Mary, travels with us, guiding, protecting, and interceding on our behalf. May we always be thankful from deep within our own hearts for Mary’s fiat and for Jesus’s forgiveness and redemption of us all.

In times of trouble and sorrow look to Mary and her Son for forgiveness, strength, and comfort. With great joy and a sense of deep thankfulness, open your hearts and walk with Mary to witness the image of everlasting life in her Son Jesus, whose birth we celebrate with joyful hope.

May you have a most blessed, love-filled, and joyful Christmas as you celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world!

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL