In today’s Office of Readings Saint Ambrose reflects on Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. Quoting Luke’s Gospel he writes, “as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the child leapt in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.
“Notice the contrast and the choice of words. Elizabeth is the first to hear Mary’s voice, but John is the first to be aware of grace. She hears with the ears of the body, but he leaps for joy at the meaning of the mystery. She is aware of Mary’s presence, but he is aware of the Lord’s.”
Ambrose explains that John received the Holy Spirit from Jesus’ presence and Elizabeth received the same Spirit from John. Elizabeth received the Spirit after John was conceived where Mary received the Spirit before Jesus was conceived. As Elizabeth says to Mary: Blessed are you because you have believed.
Then Ambrose speaks to you and me when he says, “You are also blessed because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works…..Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. ”
We all have the opportunity to share the Spirit with others when we proclaim our belief in the Incarnation, in our actions and our words. And isn’t that the greatest Christmas gift of all?