Christmas is really close. Just ask your children and grandchildren. At the Catholic School there are only three days of classes. We have gone from the counting of days to the counting of hours. Our readings give us a sense of this anticipation. The prophecy is that from Bethlehem a ruler will come forward. Why from Bethlehem? One thought is that this is the home of King David. The Messiah would come from the kingly lineage of David. Many of Israel’s leaders have come from Bethlehem so it makes sense that this Messiah would also come from Bethlehem.
The Annunciation has happened and Mary hurries to Bethlehem to her cousin Elizabeth, old in years, without child, but is now six months pregnant. Mary knows she will need help with the pregnancy and delivery of the child. From Nazareth to Bethlehem, it is about one hundred miles. Mary’s excitement to see her cousin is rising. It is in their meeting that we first experience what happens to people when they discover they are in the presence of Jesus. The mysteries of God are very much evident.
John recognizes the presence of the Lord first when he leaps in the womb. Because John is filled with the Spirit of God, some people think this may have been the baptism of John before he was born. It is interesting to think about this. Because John is filled with the Holy Spirit, he fills his mother with the Holy Spirit and she proclaims, “How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me!” Mary, already full of grace, will respond with the Magnificat, my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. We now stand in the presence of God through the witness and testimony of Mary, Elizabeth, and John. We can now recognize Mary as the first disciple of Jesus as she takes the gospel message to her cousin.
From the reading from Hebrews, we recognize something even more mysterious. God has come to earth taking the form of a human being and remain divine. One person does not take over or subdue the other form. They exist together, human and divine. We do not know how this works and that is why we call it a mystery. If Jesus was just human, there would be no way we could go to heaven. If Jesus was just divine, then we would not be able to trust and believe in Him as God.
Jesus needs to be fully human and fully divine. Never has this been done before, not does it ever have to be done again. The sacrifice of Jesus is complete and all we need for salvation. In some way, we all want to live forever. God has provided the way through His Son becoming fully human and divine.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen