FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT (C)
We are just a couple of days away from the Christmas and on the fourth Sunday of Advent we hear the visitation of Our Blessed Mother. “Behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.” These words of the angel proved to Mary that nothing is impossible with God. She immediately takes up the long and hazardous journey to visit Elizabeth. Mary impregnated with God’s Word and carrying the baby Jesus within her goes to meet her cousin. Mary hurried, which means speed, diligence, care, earnestness, zeal. Mary went with purpose and earnestness. She was not going on a casual, friendly visit. She was going so that she and Elizabeth could encourage and share with each other. They both had similar situations. God had acted upon both their bodies, performing a miracle for both. Elizabeth’s womb was made alive for the son of Zechariah to be conceived, and Mary’s womb had conceived as a virgin.
One of the titles we give to our Lady is Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament was precious not because of its gold decoration but because it contained three precious items (Heb 9:4):
1). The two tablets of stone containing the ten commandments which had been written by the hand of God. Moses had received it from the hand of God on Mt. Sinai.
2). Manna, which God provided to the people of Israel in the desert as their daily sustenance.
3). The priest, Aaron’s rod that budded.
We can say that Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament prefigured Mary in the New Testament, it was pointing forward to Mary in the New Testament. Mary carried in her womb
1). Jesus the living Word of God, the Word made flesh (not just written on stone as in the Old Testament)
2). Jesus was the Bread of Life (John 6) (fulfilment of the manna of the OT)
3). Jesus was the Priest of the NT (Heb.) (Aaron was a priest and those descended from his were priests but Jesus is the Priest of the NT)
So, the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament was pointing forward to a far greater Ark of the Covenant in the New Testament, Mary, who carried in her womb the Living Word of God, the Bread of Life and the High Priest, Jesus himself.
If we compare Mary visiting Elizabeth with King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem for the first time, we get further hints that the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament was looking forward to Mary as the greater Ark of the Covenant in the New Testament:
1). David dances for joy as the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem in 2 Sam 6:5 and John leaps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb as Mary greets her cousin Elizabeth in Luke 1:44.
2). David calls out, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” in 2 Sam 6:9 and Elizabeth calls out, “why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” in Luke 1:43. Just like David who welcomes the Ark of the Covenant with great humility, Elizabeth too welcomes Mary, the new Ark of the Covenant with humility.
3). The Ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite a few miles outside Jerusalem for three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and his whole house in 2 Sam 6:11, and Mary too remained about three months with Elizabeth in Luke 1:56 a few miles outside Jerusalem.
As we come prepare ourselves for the great Mystery of Incarnation, let us pray that we who receive Jesus daily in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, may become dwelling places of God. May we like Mary carry Jesus within us and share the joy of Christmas with whomsoever we come in contact with. May all of us bear God within us. God bless.