21st Dec

Song of Songs 2:8-14
Luke 1:39-45

There’s an air of joy and urgency that weaves through the readings and prayers of our liturgy today.

The first reading today comes from the Song of Songs. It’s not used very often in the lectionary, though is an option for Weddings and Religious Professions. The writer imagines their Beloved as a young gazelle and in poetry celebrates the dynamic of a relationship of love. There are verbs of motion and details that engage our senses:

‘see how he comes leaping on the mountains’

‘bounding over the hills’

‘he looks in’

‘he peers through the lattice’

‘winter is past’

‘flowers appear’

‘the cooing of the turtledove’

‘vines giving out their fragrance’

‘your voice is sweet’

‘your face is beautiful’

The urgency of the Beloved to meet his lover can carry us along. There’s a similar urgency in Luke’s story of the Visitation; ‘Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country’. By all accounts Mary’s journey to Elizabeth won’t have been easy. Whatever we imagine the terrain to be like, the journey was long and not without danger for someone Mary’s age. Luke gives us none of these details. His focus in on the joy to two women meeting. Mary and Elizabeth have lived lives of faithfulness to God’s Word. Their faithfulness has made them so open and ready to receive that God can find a home in them. On the Feast of the Visitation we sing a hymn written by one of our Sisters. This verse always strikes me:

Virgin mother, childless wife,
Vessels of his will;
In their flesh his kingdom grows,
Secret, holy, still.

Lets make our homes and hearts a place this Advent where God’s kingdom can grow, secret, holy, still.