Friday of the Third Week of Advent
The readings for today present us with several powerful images of love. First, from the Song of Songs, is a passionate poem between two lovers pining to be together. In the Gospel reading from Luke, we see a similar anticipation culminating in an explosion of joy when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, goes “in haste” to visit her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. At first glance, it seems odd that the Church would pair these two readings—what does the love between relatives in Luke have to do with the romantic love in Song of Songs?
But as often is the case with Scripture, there are many layers of meaning, and one text can illuminate meanings in another. By reading these two passages alongside each other, we see them pointing to a a deeper sort of love than romantic or familial love. Both these (and all other forms of love) are a reflection of Love itself—the Love that is God, the Love that became incarnate in Jesus Christ. The excitement that John and Elizabeth felt as Jesus and Mary arrived is the excitement not just of family reunion but of human beings recognizing the God they long for is near. The magnetic passion between lovers is an image of the love that God has for us, which is reciprocated in those who strive for holiness.
As Christmas approaches and we can so easily get caught up in many loves—think mistletoe, gifts and goodies, and gatherings with family and friends—part of our preparation must be to make sure that the center of all this is Christ, “joy of heav'n, to earth come down.”
Fr. James-Peter Trares, OP