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All God Wants for Christmas

First Reading: Song of Songs 2:8-14

Hark! my lover–here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
My lover speaks; he says to me,
“Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one,
and come!
“For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!

“O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21

R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield,
For in him our hearts rejoice;
in his holy name we trust.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.

Gospel: Luke 1:39-45

Mary set out in those days
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,
“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.”

NAB

dec 21

“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Psst! Did you catch that? Those first few words? In some translations, it’s actually Blessed is she . . . .

That’s right! Blessed Is She! It’s like our own little ministry holiday today! And seeing it in context right before Christmas really brings it all together. The elements we need to understand what it’s all about-—faith, trust, love, giving—they’re all here. These elements reveal the meaning and truth of Elizabeth’s words to Mary, and they help us understand God’s unique will for each of us this season.

Consider these incredible (and very different!) women:

We have Elizabeth—no stranger to middle age, married to a well-respected leader in the community. A faithful woman who clung to God throughout a lifetime of infertility, who in her suffering held her heart open to His will long after it made sense to keep hoping for a child. She continued to serve and to recieve with that open heart. God did not take away the suffering—but He brought her through it, and out of her openness He brought impossible joy. The miracle of a child. A child whose very presence brought Mary and Jesus to her, a child who would prepare a way for His cousin, the Christ.

And then we have the one and only Mary. Young, unmarried, Mary, from a small town, so vulnerable, without many connections. Pregnant out of wedlock, with no one to grasp that she was was indeed espoused—not to a man, but to the Holy Spirit. Despite her vulnerability, despite the almost certain shame, she too bared her heart to God’s will. And in return she recieved Christ. In order to give Christ to the world.

God gave these women a purpose. He made a promise. One without many details at the time. But they still trusted.

God gives each of us a purpose. A purpose that not one of the other 7 billion souls in the world can fulfill except us. It’s easy to get bogged down by the questions and stuck in the details, but at its core our mission is really very simple. Just two ingredients. First: our unique, one-of-a-kind self. Second: Christ—to be both received by us with an open heart, and given to the world without fear or reservation.

And just like Mary and Elizabeth, He makes each of us a promise. A promise that the singular mission He gives us is enough to change us and change the world.  In the recieving and giving of His Son, God created us to make a completely new and needed and everlasting impact on the world—just like Mary, Elizabeth, and all the other Saints who came before us. That’s all it takes—then truly, we too can say, “Blessed are we who have believed what was spoken to us would be fulfilled!”

We, like these women, are meant to be vessels bringing the gift of Christ to others. This Christmas, let’s place a higher value on this gift than the material ones we’re rushing to buy or wrap. Let’s let go of some of the questions, the details, and give to our Creator the gift of our one-of-a-kind heart and soul—so we can make room to receive the Greatest Gift of all.

photo by Edenn Yorks

Megan Hjelmstad is a wife, mom, writer and sometimes soldier whose real passion is equal parts faith and chocolate. You can find out more about her here.

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