Bishop Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles
December 20, 2015
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Fourth Sunday of Advent
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” Luke 1:44
St. Elizabeth speaks those words to Mary at the Visitation. She is describing how St. John the Baptist leapt in her womb when Mary’s greeting reached her ears. Mary’s words of salutation move St. John to dance in the womb of his mother.
St. Luke describes a reaction that we see on Christmas morning in a house where children gather. When it comes time for the exchange of gifts, the children run to the Christmas tree. They don’t walk. They don’t stroll. They scamper, skip or do whatever else children do when they are excited.
Mary’s voice is the voice of the first evangelist. Her greeting to St. Elizabeth announces to St. John that the hope of ages, the anointed one promised to Israel, the fulfillment of the scriptural prophecies, is here within reach. It is like Daniel dancing before the Ark of the Covenant in Second Samuel 6:14. It is like children running to claim their gifts. This is what you do when the Lord is near.
And what do we do? We approach the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion. Advent is like a procession to receive our Lord in Holy Communion. We should come cleansed with minds focused and souls shriven. As St. Paul admonishes the Corinthians, “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself” (I Corinthians 11:29). Preparation contributes to excitement.
No one should approach Holy Communion without the correct intention, with a heart full of faith, as prepared as one could possibly be. I think this is what St. Paul is referring to when he speaks of “discerning the body.” Holy Communion is God’s greatest gift to us. Holy Communion is not some act of fellowship to make us feel as though we belong. This is not coffee and donuts. This is an act of communion with God and we should be just as excited as David was when, in the presence of God, he danced before the Ark or St. John when he leapt in the womb of St. Elizabeth. “[D]iscerning the body” is also an act of faith.
St. Elizabeth’s words to Mary at the conclusion of the Visitation are telling. She says, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45). It’s all about faith. From the beginning, Mary’s abiding example is faith. If you believe, come forward. If you have faith, then run to the Lord. If you love, join that love to your belief and advance to the Lord.
We are like children on a Christmas morning, hurrying to the gift. From the womb St. John the Baptist taught us a lesson without words. He moved. He leapt. Mary’s words awakened him to the coming of His Lord. He could not contain his excitement.
Does Mary’s greeting sound in our ears? Have we rejected the sin that keeps us from receiving our Lord? Are we prepared for the ultimate coming of our Lord? Has Advent been truly a time of preparation? We have waited for the Lord. Let us go forward to meet Him. “Come, Lord Jesus.”