There is a piece of sculpture in front of one of our residence halls entitled “The Annunciation.” It is a physical rendering of today’s Gospel account of Mary greeting Elizabeth. With smiling faces, the two women, frozen in bronze, are nodding to one another. The students aptly renamed the piece “Friendship.” I suspect kinship and familial concern took Mary to the hill country to visit her aged cousin, but I also suspect a cross generational friendship existed between these two women.
One can only imagine the conversation these kinswomen had after Elizabeth’s greeting: “Most 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?” Undoubtedly they talked about the mysterious intervention of God into their lives, about the fears and concerns of first time mothers—one young and one old; they speculated, perhaps, about the fate of their respective sons, about the circumstances of their husbands, or about life in their small villages—what will the neighbors say? It was the conversation of two friends who happened to be touched and blessed by God and who had a significant role to play in God’s plan for salvation. At its essence it was the kind of conversation each of us has every day with family and friends.
Like Mary and Elizabeth, we, too, can reflect on God’s interventions in our respective lives. We, too, can identify with Mary’s response: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” For God is abundantly present to you in many obvious or hidden ways.
Where do you see God at work in and around you? What does God tell you in the fear and doubt, the challenges and losses of life? How is God’s presence made manifest in your joy and laughter, successes, accomplishments and relationships?
Unlike Mary, you and I are not the instruments of the divine promise keeper in bringing to fulfillment the birth of the Messiah, as recorded in the reading from Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…”
Yet, we are recipients of God’s presence and pleasure; but for what purpose? I suggest, for starters, to praise, reverence and serve God. Mary and Elizabeth had that same purpose. Theirs was just a bit more dramatic in scope!
The Psalm says we should “sing to the Lord;” we should “praise the name of the Lord;” we should “honor the poor” and “judge justly.” In the journey of any day we can seek the opportunities to do some of that and so much more.
In one’s unique circumstances, relationships, employment, and relaxation are found opportunities to praise, reverence and serve God. We have situations where we can—by word and deed—make the Lord present to those around us and bring peace to them and bring peace to our own shifting heart. When we live a life guided by Gospel values, we, like Mary and Elizabeth, give life to God’s promise to tangibly be with God’s people. Just realizing that should invoke in you Mary’s response: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”
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