4th Sunday of Advent
Each Sunday of Advent, a Saint John's School of Theology and Seminary community member will offer a reflection on the Sunday Gospel reading. We hope the work of our community is edifying for you as we prepare ourselves for Christ's coming.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
Despite it being clearly mentioned in the Gospel of Luke, Mary’s pregnancy is largely omitted from Christian art. When we think about Mary the mother of Jesus, many of us likely have popular images of her in our mind. Perhaps you imagine Mary as a young mother, or witnessing Christ’s crucifixion, or wrapped in blue with her hands folded. But this reading for the Fourth Sunday of Advent in the Gospel of Luke depicts a younger, pregnant Mary and highlights this vital moment in Salvation History. In this Gospel, the very sound of Mary’s voice as she was pregnant with Jesus caused the child in her cousin Elizabeth’s womb to leap with joy as Elizabeth and become filled with the Holy Spirit.
While Mary was the only person chosen by God to bring Jesus into the world physically, all Christians are tasked with being God-bearers in their own way. Filled with the Holy Spirit by virtue of our Baptism, we are called to imitate Mary and be vessels of good news to all people that we encounter. At the same time, we are also called to be like Elizabeth and recognize the presence of Christ in others and shout for joy.
As this season of Advent ends, let us take time to reflect on the image of the pregnant Mary, a woman who was blessed for her belief in God’s call and her ‘yes.’ When we enter our family, local communities, and Church gatherings this Christmas season, let us bear the good news of Christ with us, and be attentive to the presence of God in others.
For your own reflection, see a rare example of Mary as a pregnant woman below. This iconic statue is located in Stella Maris Chapel on the property of Saint John's Abbey.