There are a number of ways in which we convey our joy at Jesus’ coming into the world.
One way is by sending Christmas cards to family and friends. Some of you may have already sent or received Christmas cards. Some of you will send most of your Christmas cards after Dec. 25. They won’t be late; it’s the Christmas season through Jan. 13, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
Another way in which we convey our joy at the birth of the Savior is how we greet others on Christmas with the words “Merry Christmas.”
When we greet others with these words we desire to convey the deep joy we have. We want to share with others the excitement we have in Christ’s birth. When we visit family or friends, our greeting can bring out joy and delight in those we meet.
When Mary went to visit and help her relative Elizabeth, the Scriptures mention the power of Mary’s greeting to her. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, she was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Was there something special in what Mary said that led Elizabeth to be filled with joy? We don’t know exactly what Mary said. But whatever she said, her message had an impression on Elizabeth.
Gift of the Spirit
Surely, Mary’s greeting was full of joy. But not just any joy: It was the joy she had in carrying Jesus, the Son of God, in her womb. Elizabeth rejoiced, and her own child leaped in her womb because Mary came and brought her the Son of God in the Spirit. Joy is always a gift of the Holy Spirit, and that Spirit always brings us to Jesus.
This does not mean that Mary did not play a role in leading Elizabeth to be filled with joy.
Mary’s greeting was the vehicle of the Holy Spirit. The Lord used Mary’s greeting as an instrument of his divine work. As Mary spoke, the Holy Spirit spoke to Elizabeth’s heart. Mary spoke externally, and the Holy Spirit internally. In the joy of the Spirit, Elizabeth encountered Jesus.
Mary’s greeting was of the Spirit and that same Spirit brought joy to Elizabeth’s heart. The Lord can use our words in the same way.
When we speak and greet others this Christmas with words of joy, gladness and celebration, we want our tone and body language to match the joyful words that come from our lips.
But, most important, we want the Holy Spirit to speak through our words as the Spirit spoke through Mary’s. We want to share the love of Jesus.
Holy Spirit, place your divine joy and Christ, the cause of our joy, into those we greet this Christmas season.
Deacon John Drees is in formation for the priesthood at St. Paul Seminary for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. His home parish is St. Mary in Shakopee, and his teaching parish is St. Pius X in White Bear Lake.
Sunday, Dec. 23
Fourth Sunday of Advent
- Micah 5:1-4a
- Hebrews 10:5-10
- Luke 1:39-45
This Christmas, how can I best convey the love of Jesus through what I say and do in the presence of others?