The liturgy of this fourth Sunday of Advent focuses on the figure of Mary, the Virgin Mother, waiting to give birth to Jesus, the Savior of the world. Let us fix our gaze on her, a model of faith and charity ; and we can ask ourselves: what were your thoughts during the months of waiting? The answer comes from the Gospel passage of today, the story of Mary’s visit to her elderly relative, Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1 : 39-45). The angel Gabriel had told her that Elizabeth was expecting a son and was already in the sixth month (cf. Lk 1 : 26.36). And then the Virgin, who had just conceived Jesus by the work of God, had left hurriedly from Nazareth, in Galilee, to reach the mountains of Judea, and to find her cousin.

Faith and Charity

The Gospel says: “Mary entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” (v.40). Surely she was happy with her for her motherhood, as in turn Elizabeth greeted Mary saying: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! To what do I have to have the mother of my Lord come to me? “(Vv. 42-43). And she immediately praises her faith : “Blessed is she who believed in the fulfillment of what the Lord has told her” (v.45). It is evident the contrast between Mary, who had faith, and Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, who had doubted, and had not believed the promise of the angel and therefore remained silent until the birth of John. It is a contrast.

Man Meets God!

This episode helps us to read with a very special light the mystery of the encounter of man with God. An encounter that is not under the banner of amazing prodigies, but rather in the name of faith and charity. In fact, Mary is blessed because she believed: the encounter with God is the fruit of faith. Zachariah instead, who doubted and did not believe, remained deaf and dumb. To grow in faith during the long silence: without faith we inevitably remain deaf to the consoling voice of God; and we remain unable to pronounce words of consolation and hope for our brothers. And we see him every day: people who have no faith or who have a very small faith, when they have to approach a person who suffers, tells them words of circumstance, but can not reach the heart because they have no strength. He has no strength because he has no faith, and if he has no faith the words that reach the heart of others do not come. Faith, in turn, is nourished in charity. The Evangelist tells us that “Mary got up and went quickly” (v. 39) from Elizabeth: in a hurry, not anxious, not anxious, but in a hurry, in peace. “She got up”: a gesture full of concern. She could have stayed home to prepare for the birth of her son, instead she cares first of others than of herself, demonstrating in fact that she is already a disciple of that Lord she carries in her womb. The event of the birth of Jesus began like this, with a simple gesture of charity; moreover, authentic charity is always the fruit of God’s love.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

The Gospel of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, which we heard today in the Mass, prepares us to live Christmas well, communicating to us the dynamism of faith and charity. This dynamism is the work of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit of Love who fecundated Mary’s virginal womb and who urged her to come to the service of her elderly relative. A dynamism full of joy, as we see in the meeting between the two mothers, which is all a hymn of joyous exultation in the Lord, who does great things with the little ones who trust Him.

May the Virgin Mary obtain for us the grace of living an extrovert Christmas , but not dispersed: extroverted: in the center there is not our “I”, but the You of Jesus and the brothers’ you, especially those who need a helping hand . Then we will leave room for love that, even today, wants to become flesh and come to live among us.

ANGELUS ADDRESS BY POPE FRANCIS ON THE 23RD DECEMBER 2018