As children my cousins had a very visible and simple way of showing their delight. Whenever something made them extremely happy they would hop up and down, literally leaping in their joy. Christmas mornings or surprise birthdays would find these children bouncing straight up and down in happiness. What a wonderful display of sheer joy.
After learning that she would bear the Son of God, Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, of whom Gabriel has spoken. What happens with Elizabeth? What does the Holy Spirit cause Elizabeth to recognize? Why did the baby (John the Baptist) leap in her womb?
The gift of Jesus is the gift that brings more joy than any other present any person might find under the Christmas tree. And two of the first people to recognize the wonder of God’s gift were John the Baptist and his mother, Elizabeth. Just the sound of Mary’s voice was enough to stir the unborn John as he recognized the woman who would bring forth such a blessing to the world.
The Holy Spirit, with the aid of the moving baby, made Elizabeth also recognize what was going on. These two women and the unborn child were part of the miracle of Christmas and the arrival of God on earth. These three would be among the many witnesses who would see the mighty God of all things manifested in human form through Jesus.
And this was a cause of great joy. Certainly Mary was filled with joy, so much so that she rushed to share the event with her cousin. Elizabeth was filled with joy when she realized the import of what was happening. And the joy of our mighty God even reached an unborn child, filling him with such emotion that the confines of the womb could not prevent his own leap for joy.
The celebration of Christmas can become so humdrum and familiar that we miss the amazing truth to the whole story. It is the celebration that the mighty God of the universe has reached out to us. God loves us so much that he sent His Son to be with us. This should cause great joy.
May this holiday season fill you with such happiness that you are willing to break through any confines and constrictions in your life and leap for joy the way John did.
DAILY CHALLENGE: How can your joy be renewed?