In the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Dec. 23, we’re reminded that Jesus came to fulfill God’s promise to make the relationship that we broke with him whole again. He was already working on it before he was even born.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
…from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times.
Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Today’s Gospel treats us to the meeting of two impossible mothers. On one hand, we have Elizabeth who everyone understood to be unable to have children, now pregnant in her old age. And on the other hand, we have young Mary, who conceived a child without “knowing man.”
This is a beautiful moment between these cousins as they each share their particular miracle, and as they recognize the miraculous in one another. Their very special children play an important part in this story, too. John the Baptist, in the womb of Elizabeth, recognizes his Lord before either of them are even born. His mother, too, is aware of the specialness of the people in her presence. Jesus’ divinity is sensed or revealed just by his being—before he was even born. Each woman is anticipating the birth of their own son and rejoices in the coming birth of the other.
It’s so easy to overlook the miraculous sometimes. We are invited into this joyful moment to remind us to cherish the preciousness of life in all stages, to see what God can do even when we think it’s impossible, and to recognize God’s miraculous presence in the people we share our lives with.
Break Open the Word with Your Family
Have you ever felt a baby kick inside their mommy’s tummy? Or have you ever seen a newborn baby? What are some words you would use to describe that experience?
Did you recognize some of the words that Elizabeth said to Mary? They are part of the Hail Mary. The other few lines come from the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation and the rest is us asking her to pray for us. Read over the words to the Hail Mary. Think about them a bit. What does the prayer mean to you?
Think about how you felt in anticipation of a baby—maybe your own—maybe someone else’s. What were some of the feelings, thoughts, hopes, dreams, concerns, etc. that you had in anticipation of that child?
Food pantries are always in need of baby items like diapers, formula and jars of food. Go shopping for a baby in need and bring it to your local pantry or Birthright. You can learn more about the services that Birthright offers by clicking here.
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”