The Season of Light:
The Fourth Sunday of Advent
The Christmas 'Novena', Day 4
Micah 5:1-4 (From Bethlehem the King shall come)
Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19 (Lord, let us see your face and we shall be saved)
Hebrews 10:5-10 (The establishment of a new covenant, in Christ)
Luke 1:39-45 (Mary visits Elizabeth: "Blest are you among women, and blest is the fruit of your womb")
Veni, Clavis Davidica,
Regna reclude caelica,
Fac iter tutum superum,
Et claude vias inferum.
Emmanuel nascetur pro te, Israel.
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
--O Come, O Come Emmanuel (verse five)
A key is an important item to humanity. We use them as means to enter things we secure - our homes, cars, boxes or cabinets holding important papers or other valuables. Those who possessed keys were considered powerful. Not long ago, people were honored in the community by being given 'keys to the city' for their charitable work. Even the laughable "key to the executive washroom" indicates a perk; a special status.
Isaiah had prophesied that the one who would save Israel would have "place(d) on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open" (Isaiah 22:22).
In the evolution of their craft, locksmiths have been able to develop locks that are slightly different for offices and classrooms. These can also be opened by a single 'master' key - this master can open any door in the building. The Christmas event gave humanity such a master key, one that has the power to open any lock. Sometimes, though, our lives make it difficult for our hearts to be unlocked. In Charles Dickens' classic holiday tale A Christmas Carol,, Jacob Marley's ghost is bound with chains and lock boxes and even some keys that don't appear to be able to open anything. His heart, and that of Scrooge his partner, had been locked to everyone.
Today's Gospel passage tells of Mary, now pregnant, traveling to visit her aging cousin Elizabeth, who is herself pregnant. Though Luke doesn't directly state it, at an 'advanced' age Elizabeth might have required extra pre-natal care. At the very least, Mary could do what Zechariah, temporarily stricken deaf and mute, could not. Mary's heart was always unlocked.
May we find the ways to unlock that which may be holding us back from the call to service of God and neighbor, at Christmastime and all the year.