After receiving God’s call announcing to her that she will be the mother of the Messiah, Mary sets out alone. A new life in the service of her son Jesus starts for her. She goes “in haste,” with resolve. She feels the need to share her joy with her cousin Elizabeth and to be at her service the soonest in the last months of her pregnancy.
The meeting of the two mothers is an unusual scene. No men are present. Only two simple women, without any title or relevance in Jewish religion. One is Mary who carries Jesus everywhere, and the other is Elizabeth who, filled with the prophetic spirit, dares to bless her cousin without being a priest.
Mary enters the house of Zechariah, but she does not head toward him. She goes straight to greet Elizabeth. We know nothing of the content of her greeting, only that the greeting fills the house with overflowing joy. It is the joy that Mary has been living since she heard the angel’s greeting, “Rejoice, full of grace.”
Elizabeth cannot contain her surprise and joy. As soon as she hears Mary’s greeting, she feels the movement of the infant she carries in her womb and motherly interprets it as “leap of joy.” Right away she blesses Mary “in a loud voice,” saying, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
At no time does she call Mary by name. She contemplates her as totally identified with her mission: she is the mother of her Lord. She sees her as a woman believer in whom will be fulfilled God’s designs: “Blessed are you who has believed.”
What most surprises her is Mary’s behavior. She has not come to show her dignity as mother of the Messiah. She is not there to be served but to serve. Elizabeth cannot get over her surprise. “How does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
There are enough women who do not live in peace within the Church. Disaffection and unrest grow in some of them. They suffer when they see that, despite their being the first co-workers in many fields, they are hardly counted on when it comes to thinking of, deciding on, and promoting the course to be taken by the Church. This situation is hurting us all.
The weight of a centuries-old history, controlled and dominated by the male, prevents us from being aware of the impoverishment that it means for the Church when it does without a more effective presence of women.
We do not listen to them, but God can raise up women believers, filled with prophetic spirit, who will infect us with joy and give the Church a more human face. They will be a blessing. They will teach us to follow Jesus more passionately and faithfully.
José Antonio Pagola
December 23, 2012
4 Advent (C)
Luke 1: 39-45