Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Consider Elizabeth, faithful soul, elderly in age, daughter of Israel. Waiting. Waiting for the Messiah to come and deliver Israel. Waiting for the winter to be over and the spring to bud forth. Anticipation. She is not unfamiliar with the goodness of the Lord for just six months prior she, who was past the age of child-bearing, conceived in her womb the forerunner. So is it any surprise to see coming over the hillside her cousin? Mary, the most beautiful creature in God's creation approaches. But, she comes not alone. Mary approaches but within her is the Christ-child: The Bread of Life, The Word of God, the great High Priest. She has become the NEW Ark of the Covenant.
The first Ark of the Covenant was God's promise to Israel that His presence would abide with them wherever they went. In essence, wherever the Ark was, God would deliver His people from the hands of their enemies. Within the first Ark there were these three items: Miraculous Manna from the desert (bread of life), the original ten commandments (the word of God), and the staff of Aaron (the high priest). These symbols of God's faithfulness were given to the Israelites to REMIND them that God never abandons His people. Yet, these gifts were only a taste of what was to come. They were only foreshadowing the way in which God would come and be ACTUALLY present to His people. Not only to Israel would He come, but to anyone who would believe in Him. This is the great promise that Elizabeth proclaimed: "And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" This is the cry of David from the Old Testament when the first Ark of the Covenant came to him and finding himself unworthy he brought it to the house of Obededom and it remained there for three months, the same amount of time that Mary remained at Elizabeth's home.
Coincidence? Certainly not! This advent, this Christmas, is a time to see how everything in the Old Testament was a prefigurement of the coming of Christ. In other words, The Old Testament and the New Testament are not two separate unconnected stories but that they are so intimately connected that Christ said He came to FULFILL the Old. What a gift! What a grace! He who is the Bread of Life that we receive at every Mass, He who is the Word of God that we read in Scripture, and He who is the Great High Priest who we see in every priest, comes to us not in power but in the smallness of a child and reminds us that as He came to Elizabeth to comfort her in her final months of pregnancy, so He comes to us- as a child- small, humble and lovingly. And just as Elizabeth, who waited to be freed from oppression, was freed by the presence of the Christ-child in her home, so will you be freed from the weight of your sin, your worries, your discouragement in life when you receive Him again this season. Do not deny Him entrance. Allow Him to surprise you. For His only birthday request is permission to enter your heart. Is that so difficult to give to a child? To give to Jesus?
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
Have you thought about the Israelites and how long they have been waiting for a Messiah? What do you think it would have been like to find out the savior is coming?
What are you waiting for? Talk to God about the desires to your heart.
Christmas is almost here. What gift will you give Jesus? Will you let Him into your heart?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"
"He came to fulfill the Old."
"He is the Bread of Life."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with Lord bear fruit in you today?
As you're buying gifts for for your family and friends, think about what you can give to Jesus this Christmas. Make a plan to really give Him a present this year. Write it down and put it somewhere you will see and remember.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Fr. Sean Grismer, priest of the Diocese of Rockford.
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