4th Wednesday of Advent
Zephaniah 3: 14 – 18a; Ps 33; Luke 1: 39 – 45)
With a very good reason the prophet Zephaniah urges Zion, Israel to rejoice for the Lord is present as a mighty Savior. His saving presence means He has removed judgment against her and turned away her enemies. In the course of His message of joy and encouragement, the prophet proclaims twice, “The King of Israel, the Lord is in your midst…The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty Savior!”
True for Zion and, of course, true for us! The Lord is in our midst and more so – the Lord, the mighty One is within us. This great mystery of our Indwelling God, the great grace of God being present in our depths – we sing of this because our God is “Emmanuel” – more present to us than we are to ourselves.
The Gospel recounts an encounter of loving presence – of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, both pregnant – Elizabeth advanced in years and Mary a virgin – both conceiving through God’s intervention but Mary’s is totally by the power of the Holy Spirit. In a most unique and personal way, Mary, having found favor with God, is overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth feels the presence of her child by his movement and Mary, early in her pregnancy, knows the child’s presence within her. She knows because she believes the Lord’s word to her.
There is something in this Gospel that speaks of God’s presence within each of us. Sometimes, we feel that divine Presence – a word, a movement that comes in prayer, in lectio, a sense of encouragement, peace, even correction – not unlike Elizabeth feeling the child leaping in her womb; sometimes, that divine Presence is a still, silent presence within, yet always active in a love deeper than our feelings– and so like Mary, we believe in His word, His promise of presence.
Certainly, this sacred reality calls us to love, respect, our own persons and to love and respect others – to do this to acknowledge the Divine Presence and to live gratefully in the reality of this ineffable gift of God.