“Joy and Peace in Believing”
Today’s readings converge themes from last week (hope), this week (peace), and a small preview of next week (joy). In the gospel reading, Mary visits Elizabeth and the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy and was filled with the Holy Spirit. I find it incredible that the first person to recognize Jesus was a baby still in the womb. There is great joy that comes with recognizing Jesus, even in the hidden or subtle moments of life and relationships.
You may be in a season of waiting. In fact, most of our life is spent in that season. Advent is a season for us to slow down enough to pay attention to what we are actually waiting for. Instead of just speeding our way through life in a hurry, distracting ourselves from the uncomfortable realities of living in a broken world, we are called to spend Advent recognizing God’s promises and our hopes. Often, when we slow down enough to pay attention, the Holy Spirit enables us to recognize the ways Jesus is still present in our lives in the midst of our waiting. This recognition fills us with God’s peace.
Paul’s prayer at the end of the reading from Romans is that God, whom he identifies as “the God of hope,” would fill us with joy and peace in our believing. So today, can you recognize your hope in God and allow it to strengthen your faith, knowing that he is at work no matter if you can see it or feel it? You may still have to wait, but you won’t have to wait with fear and anxiety. When we can trust God, it fills us with joy and peace even in the waiting period.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles
8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”
10 And again it is said,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”
12 And again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.