Day: December 18, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2015

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Gospel Reflection for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year C – December 20th 2015

Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available.


Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.

Luke 1:39-45


A story we know so well. Two women befriending each other at an anxious time. Mary goes to Elizabeth – will they believe us?  Mothers of two sons to come. Both in strange situations.  The neighbours will take over…. What will they say? Imagine the grapevine of Nazareth and of En Kerem?

The_Embrace_of_Elizabeth_and_the_Virgin_MaryWhat will they say — Ireland was ruled for years by the neighbours. Heard of a lad who left Maynooth and couldn’t go home, or a  family member – ‘sure we all knew he was an alcoholic’.


In faith we need support and help of each other.

Opinions when they hear I go to Mass? What will they say if I go pro-life?  My son is giving up a good job and off to Africa with him for a few years volunteering?   What will the neighbours say?   It can be lonely to take faith seriously.  Among  colleagues, or in the family where none of the younger seem to care, in the family where they next generation is not baptised, when people just scoff at our faith in heaven…we need to practise faith together.

Mary and Elizabeth had faith secrets and faith promises and needed each other. We all need visitations in our faith lives.

Faith is personal but not private

No football team practices in its own. So you have the two women.  Shepherd come in pairs, and the wise men in threes.  We do not go with God or to God on our own.  Faith is personal but not private.

Faith shared brings life. The visitation gives an example of faith shared and renewed in prayer.

Mary and Elizabeth – Blessed are you among women.

Donal Neary SJ

Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger