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Gospel for Sunday, December 19: Luke 1: 39-45


39In those days Mary got up and went hastily into the hill country, to a city of Judah. 40Having entered Zechariah’s house, she greeted Elizabeth. 41As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud voice: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43What do I owe that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44Behold, as soon as your greeting reached my ears, the child leaped for joy in my womb. 45And blessed is she who believed in the fulfillment of what the Lord told her”.

Luke 1: 39-45

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.


Mary’s visit to Elizabeth must be read along the lines of various passages from the Old Testament.

  1. Mary is the ark of the covenant: a) before which she feels we are unworthy: “Why do I have the mother of my Lord to come to me?” (1.43), Elizabeth exclaims, like David who said: “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Sam 6.9); b) which remains three months (1.56-> 2 Sam 6.11: “The ark of the Lord remained three months in the house of Obed-Edom of Gath and the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his house”) ; c) in front of which she dances: “the child danced for joy in my womb” (1,44), like David in front of the ark (2 Sam 6,14.16); d) in front of which the blessing and praise explodes: Elizabeth “anafonesen” (1,42), loudly raises the liturgical cry of the ark’s companions (1 Cr 15,28: “All Israel accompanied the ark of ‘covenant of the Lord with shouts’; cf. 16.4; 2 Chr 5.13); d) incorruptible ark, hidden for the end of time (2 Mac 2,4-8: “It was also said in the writing that the prophet (Jeremiah), having obtained a response, ordered them to follow him with the tent and the ark. When arrived at the mountain where Moses had ascended and had contemplated the inheritance of God, Jeremiah went up and found a room in the shape of a cave and there he introduced the tent, the ark and the altar of incense and blocked the entrance. his followers then returned to mark the way, but they no longer found the place. Jeremiah, having learned this, rebuked them, saying: “The place must remain unknown until God has reunited all of his people and has shown himself propitious. Then the Lord will show these things and the glory of the Lord and the cloud will be revealed, as it appeared above Moses, and as happened when Solomon asked that the place be solemnly sanctified””; cf. ->Rev 11,19): from this reflection the dogma of ‘Assumption of Mary.
  2. Mary is the blessed (1,42.45.48), because the Blessed is incarnated in her: it is the only beatitude ad personam of the New Testament with that of Peter in Mt 16,17. Mary is “the woman who summarizes the feminine open to God and to his plan: Joel, Judith, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, Ruth, Anna and Elizabeth” (G. Bruni). And only in the Holy Spirit (1.41) is it possible to praise Mary. “Blessed is she who believed that the words of the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk 1:45): Mary is blessed because she is a woman of faith. Her happiness consists in the trust that she has fully placed in her Lord. She is clearly a model for every believer, blessed precisely because he is a believer. Augustine forcefully underlines: “Beatior Maria percipiendo fidem Christi quam concipiendo carnem Christi”; faith is a source of greater happiness than the fact of being a mother according to the flesh. The great doctor continues: “Mary’s maternal closeness would have been of no use to her if she had not been happy to carry Christ more in her heart than in her flesh.” The value of Mary’s motherhood therefore lies in the original attitude of faith that she made possible.
  3. Mary’s journey is missionary: for Luke there is no “going” that is not determined by the Spirit. The “haste” of v. 39 corresponds to the “Do not greet anyone along the way” of Luke 10.4, and the “entering the house greeted” of Luke 1.40 to “Whatever house you enter, first of all say: «Peace be to this house» ” of Luke 10.5, the typical admonitions to disciples on mission.
  4. Mary’s journey is diaconal: Mary remains at the service of her elderly relative until the birth of John. She is the “servant of the Lord” (1.38) where he wants to be served, in her brothers.


Don Tonino Bello wrote: “It may seem irreverent. And some will even smell sacrilege… And yet, Maria chose that name herself. In fact, twice in the Gospel of Luke, she calls herself a servant. The first time, when she, responding as an angel, offers him her business card: «Here I am, I am the servant of the Lord». The second, when in the Magnificat he states that God “looked at the humility of his servant”. She is a servant, therefore. With full rights…

Yet, that name, so self-referential, has no place in Loreto’s litanies! Perhaps because, even in the Church, despite the much talk about it, the idea of service evokes specters of awe, alludes to downgrading of dignity, and implies drops in rank, which seem incompatible with the prestige of the Mother of God. what makes us suspect that even the diakonia of the Virgin has remained an ornamental concept that imbues our sighs, and not an operational principle that innervates our existence.

Holy Mary, servant of the Lord, who gave yourself body and soul to him and entered his household as a family collaborator in his work of salvation, a truly equal woman, who grace introduced into the Trinitarian intimacy and made a treasure chest of divine confidences, domestic of the kingdom, who interpreted service not as a reduction of freedom, but as irreversible belonging to the lineage of God, we ask you to admit us to the school of that permanent diaconate of which you have been an incomparable teacher…

You who have experienced the tribulations of the poor, help us to make our lives available to them, with the discreet gestures of silence and not with the commercials of protagonism. Make us aware that, under the guise of the tired and oppressed, God is hidden.”

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


Spazio Spadoni

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