(Adults, you could begin by reading the first two paragraphs of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
This Sunday is the 4th Sunday of Advent. We light all four candles on the Advent wreathe. The feast of Jesus the Light coming into the world is almost here!
For the last little while, we have been hearing about John the Baptist—a grown-up man who tells people to prepare because Jesus is coming. We wonder how he knows this. In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear about the first time that John the Baptist knows Jesus is near. We go back to a time when John the Baptist is just a tiny baby, growing inside of his mother. His mother's name is Elizabeth. We go back to a time when Jesus is not even born yet either, but he is growing inside of his mother. Jesus' mother's name is Mary.
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is old. She is old like a grandmother, but she is not a grandmother. She has never even been a mother. Old people do not have babies, but God has surprised Elizabeth! She is going to have a baby. Nothing will be impossible with God.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.
Now that is interesting. When Mary says hello to Elizabeth, the child inside of Elizabeth leaps. The baby—John the Baptist—jumps inside of his mother. We wonder why he does that.
And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.
Aha! John the Baptist leaps for joy! We know about joy! Some people think joy is the same as being happy, but we know it is so much more. Joy fills up our whole bodies. It cannot be kept inside of us. It bubbles up and spills over. When joy fills up the body of the baby inside of Elizabeth, it bubbles up, spills over, and John the Baptist leaps!
Only One person makes Joy bubble up inside of us.
Why does John the Baptist leap for joy? Elizabeth knows. Let's listen to her words again:
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
Elizabeth tells Mary that she is blessed. "Blessed" means that it means God is with her. Elizabeth tells Mary that fruit of her womb is blessed, too. Who is the fruit of Mary's womb? It is the baby growing inside of her. God is with the baby inside of Mary. Who is this baby??
And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?
Elizabeth calls Mary "the mother of my Lord." Who is the Lord?
Elizabeth knows who Mary's baby is. She does not know his name is Jesus, yet, but she knows he is the Lord.
How can Elizabeth know this? This is a mysterious knowing. It is a knowing that can only come from One person.
Let's remember what happens first, before Elizabeth begins to speak:
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
The Spirit of God fills Elizabeth and she knows, she just knows who this baby of Mary's is. What about the baby inside of Elizabeth—John the Baptist who leaps for joy? What does he know? Does he know who is near, too?
Elizabeth knows who Mary's baby is and she exclaims with a loud cry. Her knowing fills us now, too.
Elizabeth's baby knows who Mary's baby is and he leaps for joy. His joy fills us now, too!
What will we do with our knowing and our joy?