Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 31, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 1:39-56

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

941954_540163459381009_1785581841_nAnd Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.”

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

Reflection on the gospel reading: When we say, “Yes,” we make a choice. Making a choice necessarily means that we close off a wide range of possibilities, and sometimes when we close off possibilities, we foreclose all paths to safety.

Christians have always celebrated the life of Mary, because of her yes. But because we think of Mary as she lives now the life of God, we forget what her life was like when she said, “Yes.” She was a teenage girl engaged to be married. Because she said, “Yes,” to God’s request that she conceive God’s son in her womb, she risked rejection by her fiance and her community. Mary’s yes to God, in all of its innocence, had real implications for Mary in her day-to-day life. It meant that she would be misunderstood.

Mary understood the implications of saying yes. Her question to Gabriel, “How is this possible, since I have not had relations with a man,” suggests the kinds of thoughts that were rolling around in her mind. When Mary said, yes, her choice was not naive; she understood something of the consequences of yes.

Mary’s yes meant that she closed off every route to safety. Telling her parents that she was pregnant would be difficult: “Well, Mom and Dad, you see, there was this angel . . . . ” What about her fiance, “Joseph, you are still marrying a virgin.” Saying yes to God sometimes can be an isolating experience. But Mary trusted God would do God’s part, and she said, “Yes,” knowing that it was going to mean a lot of trouble for her.

The gospel passage today then is about a young person in deep trouble who rejoices that someone actually understands what has happened. The passage is about the need to be understood and accepted. Luke tells us that Mary, like all of us, desired to be trusted. Elizabeth’s greeting said to Mary that she was not alone. God reached into Mary’s world and explained to an older woman what exactly was going on with the younger one, because God wanted to comfort and encourage the daughter to whom God had entrusted the Son.

This is a passage and a feast of the Christian community which celebrates all of us in our pain and isolation. Someone understands. Mary may have closed off every road to safety in her yes, but God still built for her a bridge to being loved and accepted by someone who was important to her.

984258_539333982797290_71180215_nIt is in being understood by another person that we can reach into the joy implicit in each verse of Mary’s Magnificat. And it is Mary’s yes to God that we can understand the meaning of the assumption. Mary’s yes means that Mary lives with God in just the very way that God intended for her (and for us.)

Saint of the day: A young, unwed girl finds herself pregnant. Should she hide from the possibility of the sentence of death by stoning which her culture imposes? Mulling over hrr course of action, the young women hurries to her elderly cousin, Elizabeth, whom the angel said was with child. Miracles are all around. But not just big miracles, such a the virginal conception and post-menopausal conception, but also the miracle of love: Mary must have realized that her cousin’s pregnancy would be difficult at such an advanced age and went to share her burden. Then there is the miracle of the revelation of life in the womb as the children danced in greeting; the prophet meets his Savior. To top it off, we have the bridge between the Old Testament and the New in the Magnificat. The Visitation is, for all these reasons, of celebration of life and fruitfulness in the spring of the year.

Spiritual reading: Do whatever he tells you. (Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the Gospel of John.)

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