Reflections on the Readings
Fourth Sunday of Advent - December 23, 2012 - Year C
The Year of Faith
The Voice of Mary
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
We live in a world filled with brokenness. Broken hearts, broken homes, broken dreams, broken bodies, and broken relationships are everywhere. This is especially true of the horror visited upon Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday, December 14 at 9:40 a.m. Twelve little first grade girls, and eight little first grade boys, and six adult women that included teachers and the principle lost their lives to the homicidal rampage of a very troubled 20 year old young man who forced his way into the school.
We recoil at this and every act of violence against the innocent and defenseless. What are we to do, anyone and everyone who is filled up with loss and pain and emptiness? To whom do we turn to find solace? I believe Mary wants to help us. She is ready to guide us to the One who is the Prince of Peace - the blessed fruit of her womb; he who comes into the world to announce good news to the poor and to heal the brokenhearted; to give sight to the blind and to set free all who are oppressed by the devil. The spiritual Mother of us all, Mary embraces the children of the Lord to help us to know Jesus her Son. She bore in her body the eternally good news that evil will not have the last word, that love never fails, and that forgiveness of sins is the immeasurable treasure of God's inexhaustible grace.
I recall my first encounter with Mary, the Mother of our Lord. It was about 9 o'clock in the evening. Mother Angelica began leading in the prayer of the Rosary on WLOF in Buffalo, New York, the area where we lived at the time.
I thought, "What harm could it do?"
For several weeks I had been praying about a conviction growing intensely within me about uniting with the Catholic Church. I would be laying aside my calling as a priest of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. As disconcerting as that thought was I still had a peace that passes all understanding. My decision process included meeting with retired Abbot John Eudes at the Abbey of the Genesee in Pifford, New York, and praying on that particular evening with Mother Angelica.
As I joined in praying the Rosary I said, "Boy! This is dry! How would you ever get anybody to do this?"
The answer to that question came very quickly.
I'm not sure if I made that statement out loud or if I thought it so strongly that I thought I said it audibly. It makes little difference for what happened next continues to elude me on how to explain what I experienced. I sat up in bed and exclaimed, "Woha! What was that?"
It lasted about as long as it takes to snap a finger. Yet it seemed as though time was no more. This brush with Eternity left me aware that this prayer of the Holy Rosary is one of those prayers heard in heaven.
When Mary made that quick trip into the hill country of Judea she carried deep inside her womb the salvation of the world. She greets Elizabeth not just as a cousin always welcome in Zechariah's house but now as a willing participant in the salvation of the world. Mary's voice resonates with an inexplicable joy - a joy that fills Elizabeth and the son in her womb, and continues to fill the world these 21 centuries with the miracle, the majesty and the mystery of Christmas!
Let us pray:
Hail Mary, full of grace. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at email@example.com His website is: www.dennishankins.com