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We are all meant to be Mothers of God

Luke 1: 39-45 from The Message

Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly,
You’re so blessed among women,
and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
the mother of my Lord visits me?
The moment the sound of your
greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb
skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
believed every word would come true!

I love this story so much and for me this translation beautifully expresses the sheer joy in Elizabeth as she greets Mary. I’ve reflected a lot about Mary’s decision to make this trip – reportedly about 90 miles and uphill to boot! Was she nuts?! No, I don’t think so. I think she was scared and unsure of her experience with the angel and her own consent to “Let it be with me just as you say.” I know I would be, and she was only around 14 years old! I really believe that she went to Elizabeth to check out the angel’s story. Now I know that’s not the usual way we think of her, or at least not the way I’ve heard it preached since childhood. I’ve always heard that she was excited to share her joyful news with her beloved cousin and to celebrate Elizabeth’s own good news. Perhaps I’m less reverent than most, but Mary was a teenager and my experience of teenagers is that they don’t believe anything until you show them and maybe not even then. Also, this wasn’t such joyful news. Lord knows that Joseph was none too pleased and if not for his personal integrity, generosity and faith, Mary would have been disgraced at best, stoned to death at worst. No, I believe Mary rushed to Elizabeth for confirmation and support. And she received it abundantly!

Elizabeth and yet unborn John both recognized the presence of holiness when Mary arrived even without hearing Mary’s story, and both responded with joyful exuberance. I imagine a shocked Mary stopping right in her tracks and then tearfully collapsing into Elizabeth’s open arms with myriad emotions coursing through her – including relief that she wasn’t crazy, amazement that her old cousin stood before her six months pregnant, and no small measure of the Hebrew version of “Holy cow! What have I agreed to?!” And then both of them dissolving into peals of laughter!

It seems to me that Mary and Elizabeth’s reaction to the reality of God’s incarnation is the perfect example to us of how to respond every time we recognize Emmanuel – God-with-us – in our lives. All of us have opportunities aplenty to witness the Incarnation in our midst if only we will look and really see, listen and really hear, taste, touch, and smell, and really sense the Divine all around us and within us! The season of Advent is a time for us to sharpen our senses and deeply pay attention to this Presence so that we’re able to truly celebrate it fully on the great feast that is nearly upon us. As we enter into the season of Christmas, may we remember the words of Meister Eckhart: “We are all meant to be mothers of God. What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly, but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of Man is begotten in us.”

Artwork: “The Almighty Has Done Great Things for Me” by Maria Lang.  Used with permission from the artist. To see the full painting, click here.

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Mary van Balen
1 month ago

Anita, this is beautiful. Thank you! I am getting out my copy of The Message and reading the Christmas story.