This Advent, A New Thing


By Sister Marianne Burkhard, OSB

Elizabeth, the mother of John Baptist, is somewhat in the shadow of Mary, but she really shouldn’t be.

Her experience is a miracle in itself because she was considered ‘barren’ and was, like Sarah, way past her child-bearing age.

Wendy Wright (in The Vigil: Keeping Watch in the Season of Christ’s Coming) says that Elizabeth was like “the dry, gray sand of the desert, a parched creation grown unable to give new life.”

Yet Isaiah long before had prophesied that “the desert and parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom” (Isaiah 35:1).

Elizabeth had not given up hope, was willing to believe Zechariah’s story, her heart and body began to flower again, containing and giving new life. (Luke 1:5-25)

Elizabeth is a sign that our lives can still give new life, no matter where we find ourselves. We can receive God in new ways, to thrive and flourish and contribute again.

This also connects for me with the parable of the seed – which is just as much, if not more – a parable of the soil. That is, even though my heart may have crumbled to sand under hot suns and dry winds, it can still receive God’s moisture again, allowing new flowers of faith, hope and love, new deeds of mercy.

Having received God’s grace, Elizabeth was willing to open herself to new hope and possibilities. Are we ready to receive God as well, opening ourselves up to Isaiah’s “new thing”? (Isaiah 43:19)

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