Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Molly CahillDecember 22, 2020
“The Madonna in Sorrow,” by Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato, 17th century (Wikimedia)

A Reflection for the Fourth Tuesday of Advent

Like most things in 2020, this will be an Advent unlike any other. But each day, you can still take a few minutes to reflect on the coming of our savior at Christmas with short reflections on Scripture, written by the staff of America Media.

Subscribe to The Word in Apple PodcastsSpotify or your favorite podcast player and never miss a reflection. 

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.

His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.

He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.


Mary’s prayer in today’s reading is about something much bigger than herself. When she thanks God for the things he has done for her, she remembers at the same time the things he has done for generations before her.

Mary reminds us that God’s heart is close to those the world might least expect. While the powerful seem to thrive on earth, Mary has insistent faith that God has a preference for the poor and the weary. And her prayer does not simply suggest that suffering will make for an eventual reward in heaven; her strong language about casting down the powerful suggests that God’s power will bring justice to the oppressed not just after death but also in the here and now.

Mary reminds us that God’s heart is close to those the world might least expect.

After this challenging year, it is natural that our faith might be shaken. We have lost loved ones, lost livelihoods, seen our brothers and sisters hurt and oppressed. Through it all, we have been isolated, unable to rely on our support systems in the same way we would otherwise. 

It is Mary, though, who reminds us that God’s holiness makes itself manifest in justice. She speaks as a poor young girl who has the responsibility of the whole world on her shoulders, whose reputation has been compromised, who can find no one else who can relate to her situation. But Mary knows the greatness that is on the horizon for her. As she sees it, God has done it before. She reminds us that, for us, he will do it again.


How can I call to mind the good that God has already done in my life and the lives of others?

Do I recognize God as a disrupter, a reformer, a revolutionary—all for the sake of justice?

More from America

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

This week on “Jesuitical,” Zac and Ashley are live at Xavier University in Cincinnati with their spiritual director, Eric Sundrup, S.J., sharing their own experiences discerning their paths as young adults and offering insights from Jesuit spirituality to young people navigating big life questions.
JesuiticalMay 24, 2024
China's flag is seen as Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican
Marking the centenary of the first plenary council of the Catholic Church in China, the Vatican hosted a conference earlier this week on challenges and opportunities for Chinese Catholics.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 24, 2024
Jesuit Jacques Monet sitting at a table in a restaurant, smiling and toasting with a glass of white wine. He is wearing a dark suit and a tie with a pin on his lapel.
Jacques Monet, S.J., passed away peacefully on May 14 at the age of 94, leaving behind a great legacy to his church and nation.
John Meehan, S.J.May 24, 2024
Annette Bening, Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig in "20th Century Women."
The characters in ‘20th Century Women’ find themselves torn between embracing the new and retreating into the familiar.
John DoughertyMay 24, 2024