"There is space for everyone beneath your cloak,
because you are the Mother of Mercy."
Pope Francis, Prayer on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
As Christmas draws near the Church’s liturgy turns our thoughts to the Virgin Mary. In today’s gospel we hear of her visit to Elizabeth. Mary’s journey can be seen as an image of all the many journeys we make during the Christmas season, especially travelling to visit relatives and friends. Elizabeth rejoices in Mary’s visit and her unborn child leaps with joy in the womb. Our visits with family are also occasions of joy. If you’re like my family, Christmas is one of the few times we are all together – a real reason to rejoice!
Of course the ultimate source of joy in Mary’s visit to Elizabeth is the Child Mary bears within her. “Jesus Is the Reason for the Season” as the slogan says. And it’s true. The real joy of Christmas is the birth of Mary’s Son, the Savior of the world. Jesus is the “Good News of Great Joy” that the angels announce to astounded shepherds – and to us! As we gather with family and friends this Christmas may we not forget the true reason for coming together is that God himself was born into a human family, just like yours and mine.
Mary’s visit to Elizabeth was also an act of charity and a work of mercy. She comes to the assistance of her elderly relative who is also expecting a child. Part of the journey we make at Christmas is a journey towards the poor and forgotten – a journey of mercy. Many of you have made the journey and donated items to Sojourner House, the Spirit of Christmas, and the Tilden “Golden Mass” – thank you! Know that your generosity will bring joy to those in need.
Wherever Christmas takes you this year, may your journey be safe and joy-filled. And in your visits may you have the grace to recognize, as Elizabeth and John did, the presence of Christ our Savior. On behalf of myself, Fr. Charlie, and the Parish Staff of St. Charles and St. Peter’s, a blessed and joyous Christmas to you and your family!