I come from a family of dancers, my sister and brother hold New Zealand ballroom dancing titles, my brother Tony still teaches and dances professionally in Brisbane. Unfortunately their skills have not been passed onto me, their eldest brother, in fact, as a priest I normally take the opportunity at a social event to head home when the dancing starts…
I mention all this to you today because in our Gospel this weekend we hear that John the Baptist ‘leapt’ for joy at the presence of the unborn Jesus brought to him by Mary. However the translation ‘leapt’ is rather a lame one when we consider the original Greek word. Perhaps a better translation would be ‘did a whirling dance’.
The original readers of this gospel text would have understood that the reaction of the unborn John the Baptist, to the unborn Jesus, was the same reaction of king David when the ark of the covenant came to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6) Mary, the new Ark of the Covenant, continues to bring Jesus among us today.
To dance is of course an expression of joy. Next weekend that same Jesus who so animated Elizabeth and John the Baptist will be amongst you and I. Perhaps we won’t have dancing at our Christmas masses, but I pray that amidst the worries and anxieties of the world we might be well prepared to at least interiorly dance for joy and the presence of our new born savior.