21Dec Monday of 4th Week in Advent

1st Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18

A hymn of joy to Israel’s saving God

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak.
The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you,
so that you will not bear reproach for it.

Responsorial: Psalm 32: 2-3, 11-12, 20-21

R./: Cry out with joy in the Lord, you holy ones; sing a new song to him

Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,
with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs.
O sing him a song that is new,
play loudly, with all your skill.

His own designs shall stand for ever,
the plans of his heart from age to age.
They are happy, whose God is the Lord,
the people he has chosen as his own.

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.
The Lord is our help and our shield.
In him do our hearts find joy.
We trust in his holy name. (R./)

Gospel: Luke 1:39-45

The mutual encouragement of Mary and Elizabeth

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”


Intimate, spiritual friendship

There’s a beautiful tone of intimacy and affection in both readings for today. The Song of Songs pours out some of the lovely, lyrical love-poetry written by King Solomon for his young bride from Egypt, describing the overflowing emotions of love between them at the time of their nuptuals. In Luke’s account of the Visitation we sense the mutual spiritual friendship bonding Mary with Elizabeth, as they ponder how God has blessed both of them, and through them so many others who would come live life more fully because of John the Baptist and of Jesus.

Mary and Elizabeth felt the saving grace of God flowing through their lives and were not afraid to encourage each other by saying so. Many of us were raised on the principle that ‘God helps those who help themselves’ and that displays of need are out of place in the pursuit of holiness. Maybe we need to learn again what Elizabeth says so clearly: that God is a gracious God, and it is a blessed thing to believe in that graciousness.