It strikes me as somewhat ironic that the Scriptures proclaim today that winter is over when in fact this is the first official day of winter. Often referred to as the “longest day” of the year, today marks the winter solstice, the day on which we have the fewest minutes of sunshine and the most minutes of darkness.
Nonetheless, God sends us this love song as our first reading today, a song which depicts in human terms just how great God’s love is for us. I remember that one of my niece’s chose this reading as the first reading for her wedding Mass. On the evening before the wedding as we rehearsed for the next day’s celebration, the woman who was chose to proclaim the first reading looked at me with a distinct blush and said, “Can we really read this in Church?”
Even if today is the first official day of winter, we can rejoice in the fact that with the Advent of Jesus, our metaphorical winter of sin is over and the summer of God’s love is upon us in the great feast of the Incarnation. As we listen to Mary’s song today, we realize that she is but echoing the song that has been sung by all those who realize how greatly God has favored us by sending so great a Redeemer.
Elizabeth also senses the greatness of that love as she feels the baby in her whom quicken and stir when the fruit of Mary’s womb draws near.
Advent is almost over, but we still have a few more days of watching and waiting as God’s Promised One draws near. As so many of our Christmas carols remind us, Jesus came among us to die for our sins and to rescue us from the darkness of sin. As we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity, the days grow longer as the brightness of God’s love dispels any darkness that may still surround us.
As we draw near to the altar today, we give thanks for the gift of God’s love for us in the person of Jesus and in the sacrament of his presence that we are privileged to celebrate each day.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.