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Bearing Our Burdens Together

First Reading: Micah 5:1-4A

Thus says the LORD:
You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
and the rest of his kindred shall return
to the children of Israel.
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
and they shall remain, for now his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Second Reading: Hebrews 10:5-10

Brothers and sisters:
When Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.’“

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Gospel: Luke 1:39-45

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.”

NAB

dec 20

Several years ago, while browsing in my local Catholic book store, I happened upon the most beautiful image I’d ever seen. There, on the wall, in a modest frame, hung Albertinelli’s masterful rendition of The Visitation. I’d seen dozens of artistic representations of the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth in years past, but none of them ever made me cry. In fact, I’d never cried because of any painting before. Ever.

Regardless, there I stood, dead in my tracks, with tears rolling down my cheeks as I gazed upon the loveliness of the encounter of these two women.  There was something in the brushstrokes of that replica that tugged at my heart. That “something,” I believe, was the artist’s amazing depiction of the intimate bond of love and mutual support between two women—a bond that embodied the joys, sufferings, longing, and fulfillment of God’s promises. “This,” I said to myself, “is what Christian sisterhood should be like.”

Our Gospel reading today tells us that Mary hastens to meet Elizabeth’s need in charity and humility. Elizabeth, in turn, recognizes that something undeniably powerful has happened within her younger cousin. Elizabeth acclaims Mary as “the mother of my Lord”—as Theotokos—God bearer.

What an incredible privilege and grave responsibility young Mary chose to take on with her fiat, and how physically difficult it must have been for Elizabeth to be pregnant in her old age. And yet these two faithful women shared their burdens of joys and sorrows in the most beautifully feminine way—together, with loving encouragement, support, and service.

It is not always easy to bear the light of Christ in the world. Some days we falter, some days we are discouraged. Some days it is joyful, and some days it seems a load too difficult to handle on our own. And yet, Elizabeth and Mary remind us by their example that we are never truly alone when two or more are gathered.

With the scene of The Visitation as your inspiration, consider how you may come to the aid of a sister in need during these last days of Advent. A phone call, an email, a cup of coffee—little things can go a long way. Perhaps you are the one in need of help right now. If so, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Blessed is She community for assistance in ways either small or large.

Let us bear one another’s burdens, dear friends, as we joyfully await the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Heather Renshaw is a writer, speaker, and uplifter on a mission to love and serve God with her husband and five children in the Pacific NW. You can learn more abut her here.

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