When the Archangel Gabriel had visited Mary, and she heard the news that her “kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age” had “also conceived a son” and was in “her sixth month” (Luke 1: 26), Mary’s response was immediately attuned to the needs of Elizabeth. She did not spend time glorifying herself – oh I am the Mother of the Messiah, nor was she concerned about the discomfort that the early stages of pregnancy with its bouts of nausea, fatigue, water retention, and aches would bring. We hear from the Gospel account, that “In those days, Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country.” (Luke 1: 39) Her first thought was about Elizabeth, who in all likelihood needed help being of old age, and pregnant, and thus she quickly packed her bags for the journey, and moved in haste and urgency to tend to Elizabeth.

A life that is spent tuning in to the Will of God, will discover that in the life of a person there are seasons of waiting, and there are seasons when we are required to act with great urgency when the Will of God unfolds – this haste is needed due to several scenarios:

  • When there is a moment of danger that is looming and the Angel of the Lord has been sent to accompany us into a safer territory: In the case of the Exodus for example, the Israelites were told, “This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you will eat it in a hurry. It is the LORD’s Passover. For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn in the land, human being and beast alike, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!” (Exodus 12:11-12);


  • When we encounter the Lord – “Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quick, three measures of bran flour! Knead it and make bread.’ He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice calf, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. Then he got some curds*and milk, as well as the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them, waiting on them under the tree while they ate.” We are invited to shake off the sluggishness or selfishness of our lives, and make haste to come into the presence of God.


  • When someone needs help and God has desired us, via his providential hand, to come to this person’s aid and be this person’s answered prayer: “The prophet Habakkuk was in Judea. He mixed some bread in a bowl with the stew he had boiled, and was going to bring it to the reapers in the field, when an angel of the Lord told him, ‘Take the meal you have to Daniel in the lions’ den at Babylon.’ But Habakkuk answered, ‘Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I do not know the den!’ The angel of the Lord seized him by the crown of his head and carried him by the hair; with the speed of the wind, he set him down in Babylon above the den.” In these times, the Holy Spirit and our Guardian Angels will carry us like the wind, so that we may come speedily to the aid of this person who is crying out.


  • When the seasons change, and the favourable time has come for us to act – “Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down with haste, for today I must stay at your house.’ And he came down quickly and received him with joy.” (Luke 19: 2-6)


Interestingly, we read in Scripture, several times where the Israelites are moving in such haste that they do not have time to wait for their bread to rise, and thus have to eat unleaven bread. Today, in Jewish bakeries, we encounter the strange phenomenon of the bakers running all about the bakery, and yelling, “For the sake of the mitzvah of matzah!” because the timing in getting the bread from the kneading stage to the oven, is crucial in preventing the bread from rising. This bread that is baked is called the Matzoh. Fun fact: The Hebrew word for “commandment” or “precept” is Mitzvah. The bakers run about screaming, “For the commandment of the bread” – recalling the Lord’s command to eat the bread with haste and not let it rise (Chabad.org, n.d). Eating the Matzoh, especially the one that is baked for the Passover is believed by the Jewish people to be eating the commandment of God. The making and consumption of this bread made with haste, is equated by the Jewish people as an act of obedience to acting with immediacy to the Will of God.

Pope Francis (2022) reminds us that there is a need to move with haste when we consider the concrete and real needs of others. Having received tremendous gifts from God our loving Father, we are invited to move quickly to tend to the needs of our neighbour, to share with urgency the joy that we have received, and the Good news that we have heard. We are also reminded by Pope Francis to be discerning between healthy haste that is driven by acting upon the Will of God, and haste that is reckless and wasteful – “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to want” (Proverbs 21:5). Pope Francis goes on to say,

When Mary arrives at the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth, a marvellous encounter takes place! Elizabeth herself had experienced miraculous intervention from God, who gave her a child in her old age. She would have had every reason to begin by talking about herself, yet she was not “full of herself”, but anxious to welcome her young cousin and the fruit of her womb. As soon as she heard Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Such surprises and outpourings of the Spirit come about when we show true hospitality, when we put others, not ourselves, at the centre. (Pope Francis, 2022, para. 14)

Advent is a time when we are gently called to move in haste to build the Kingdom of God. In this moving towards, we pour out the parts that are concerned with ourselves, and begin to fill ourselves with true hospitality that place others first. Like Mary, we would have encountered God, but this encounter is not for us to be self-indulgent about, or to keep to ourselves. We must now rise from the inertia of our every day, and from the slumber of our attitudes, to move rapidly towards God’s Kingdom, to reach out to our neighbour, and to be present to the Ministry of Proximity and Accompaniment, and all this with discernment and a constant checking in with God.


By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan



Chabad.org. (n.d.). Matzah. Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center. Retrieved December 9, 2023 from https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/642045/jewish/Matzah.htm

Pope Francis. (2022, August 15). Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the XXXVII World Youth Day 2022 – 2023. Libreria Vaticana Editrice. Retrieved from https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/youth/documents/papa-francesco_20220815_messaggio-giovani_2022.html