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Filled With the Spirit, She Cried Out

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. (1a; 3a) 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

dec21

“Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice . . . . Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

This is one of my favorite Gospel readings, because it features a scene which is rare—a window into the minds and hearts of the women who were Jesus’ family. This scene features only His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary and aunt, Saint Elizabeth. Both with child, each pregnancy miraculous in its own accord. However, when you put them together—put these women together—the stage is set for one of the most important moments of salvation history.

As Christmas approaches, we turn to remember and adore the incarnate God who came as a helpless infant—born homeless to refugee parents fleeing a totalitarian empire. We know that tiny human is God with skin on and we marvel at the wonder of this God, this tremendous love and mercy He extends—to become one with His creation.

But we are wise to also recall that the coming of Christ heralds an awakening to the Spirit, to God breaking into this world in a concrete way, for a specific purpose. The Christmas hymn we sing, O Holy Night, says:

Truly He taught us to love one another/His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall he break/ for the slave is our brother/ and in His name, all oppression shall cease

This, then is the work which we have each been given, standing and adoring at that cradle, in that barn, in Bethlehem. It is the same spirit of sending forth that Saint Elizabeth was filled with in today’s Gospel, one that compelled her to cry out, letting God use her mouth for His sacred words. We are called to be hands building the Kingdom of God, speaking love where there is fear, planting peace where there is violence, and working against oppression in His name. This looks different for each of us in our own lives and vocations, in our homes, work, and extended families. But we all have the ability to make a difference in our own ways!

This is the miracle of Christmas: God became a human baby who calls each of us to bind up the wounds of the world. He is calling you and me this Advent—and there is still time to respond. How do you feel His call?

He is calling you and me this Advent—and there is still time to respond. How do you feel His call?

Sarah Babbs is a writer and mother of three, including twin toddlers. She writes about faith, social teaching, and navigating life as a motherless daughter and mother. You can find out more about her here.

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