This past week I stumbled upon an internet meme that held some truth for me this Advent Season. For those of you who are fortunate enough to spend less time on the internet than I do, a meme is a humorous image, video, or text that is passed around the internet. It typically depicts a cultural truism or commonly held belief in such a way that the viewer is inspired to laugh and say, “boy, aint that the truth.”
For me, this week, the particular meme that caused me to respond with a chuckle was a picture of a comparison list. One side of the list was titled, “Presents Mom Needs to Buy”. Underneath that list there was a long list of names which included; parents, in-laws, cousin Betty, uncle Tim, the nephews, the nieces, and so on, and so on, and so on. The other side of the column was titled, “Presents Dad Needs to Buy” and under that heading the only name listed was, “mom.”
Notwithstanding the truth of this meme, I want to share with you the experience I had while fulfilling my present buying obligation.
I had purchased an item and the nice and competent salesclerk asked if I would like her to wrap the present. Without even asking if it cost extra, I responded, “Yes! I do.” She selected a very nice wrapping paper which contained the brand name of the item with I had just purchased. I thought that was a bit ostentatious, but I said nothing. Then, after professionally wrapping the present she then wrapped the gift in a very bright red ribbon, which also displayed the name brand of the item in bright gold letters. Finally, she placed this handsomely wrapped present, with its expertly tied ribbon, into an appropriately sized gift bag… with the logo prominently displayed on both sides of the bag. As she handed me the gift bag I looked at her and said, “sort of the takes the surprise out of what’s inside…doesn’t it.”
She wished me a merry Christmas, and I took the gift and left the store.
Today’s Gospel sort of lends itself to the same type of scenario.
The Scripture is quite clear that immediately following Mary’s profession of faith, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” that she went with “haste” to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Where, immediately upon entering the door, Elizabeth greets her with these words, “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.”
Imagine, if you will, the nervousness, the apprehension, and the worry that Mary must have felt about having to share the reality and circumstance of her pregnancy. It might have been very possible that as Mary was traveling to the home of Elizabeth, she would have been very troubled as to what she was going to say. Yet, whatever Mary may have or may not have prepared along the way was unnecessary because of the mysterious and mighty hand of God.
Elizabeth’s words to Mary were both a greeting and a prophecy. Her words wondrously and purposefully associated Mary with two of the great women of the Old Testament, Jael and Judith. Women who were blessed for their heroic faith and courage. Elizabeth’s words revealed the love of God and his desire for the salvation for his people when she proclaimed, “the mother of my Lord.” Elizabeth’s words, though they “ruined” the surprise of Mary’s miraculous pregnancy, only served to immortalize the beauty and mystery of God’s plan for salvation for all of mankind.
Today, this 4th Sunday of Advent, as we eagerly await the celebration, tradition, and joy of Christmas let us take time to day to reflect upon the mystery…the beautiful mystery of God’s love for us.
Science, nor apologetics, no magic can explain God’s mysterious plan for salvation. We, as followers of Christ, can only accept by faith that God does indeed so love us that he gave us his only son; born of a virgin that he might live, suffer, die, and rise so that we may be called Children of God.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, today, as we prepare ourselves to receive the wondrous mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ, may we reflect upon the wondrous mystery of his first coming. May our joyous anticipation of the celebration of his first coming inspire us to receive him today in joyous anticipation of his second coming. May we celebrate today, as Elizabeth celebrated that glorious day in that hill town in Judah; and may we continue to celebrate each day, knowing that our Lord is here with us, and will soon come again in glory and in power.