For the past two weeks, our Gospel readings have focused on the role of St. John the Baptist. He is one of the two great images for Advent, as we hear him proclaiming, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” 

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, we are given the other great image of Advent, the Blessed Mother. On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we heard the story of the Annunciation, when the archangel Gabriel announced that she was to be the mother of the Messiah. Her response, her fiat, “Let it be done to me according to Your word,” was the most immediate preparation for the coming of Jesus. At that moment, He took flesh in her womb, and the story of our salvation had begun.

This Sunday we hear the story of the Visitation. Gabriel tells Mary that her cousin Elizabeth has conceived a child in her old age and that she who was said to be barren was in her sixth month. We are told that Mary set out in haste to a town of Judah, where she was greeted by Elizabeth. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and the child leapt with joy in her womb. She then spoke what we know as the second phrase of the Hail Mary.  “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb.” She went on to say, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

In these next few days, we continue our Advent preparations. We recognize how blessed we are that Mary brought Jesus into the world to be our Savior, our Lord, our Brother, our Friend. We too seek to trust in the words that God has spoken. We demonstrate that we trust in those words when we seek to live our lives based on those words.

Remember that we are preparing, not just for Christmas, but for Christ.