Mary, is very much an Advent person. Within these last few days we have had the celebration of The Immaculate Conception, and the feast of Our lady of Guadalupe. As we reflect on the scriptures, Mary was not alone in her "patient expectation" as she awaited the birth of her Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus, who was to become The Christ of God. She had the companionship of another strong woman, her cousin Elizabeth. When we are confused, and stressed, we always need to have the wisdom of the ages available to us. So it was, with Mary. She had Elizabeth, and the latter recognizes the person who blessed her with her presence. With the presence of Mary came another Presence.
Mary and Elizabeth, so different and yet so many wonder-full similarities. Both strong women, and individuals of deep, deep faith. One, Mary, the teenager, the other, Elizabeth, a woman of many years. She is many years beyond her child bearing years. Yet, miracles of miracles, she finds herself pregnant. What were those many years like when she had to suffer the agony and the shame of being childless? In the culture of her time she lived out her life in disgrace, because God did not grace her with the vocation of motherhood. She had the desire, and nothing, until now. Mary, who was she? A young woman betrothed to, but not as yet living with, her intended. She was preparing to be married, but was not preparing, to be a mother. That would would come, with God's blessing, at some future time, but not right now. For Mary, the future became a reality, right now. Her pregnancy was not the result of her and Joseph’s plans. Her pregnancy was the result of the plans, of the Ultimate Planner, God. Yet, The Planner, The Almighty God, had to wait for Mary's "YES". What conflict Mary must have been in. Here she was still a virgin and is being asked to say, yes, to a child. What was Joseph going to think? How was this going to work out with family and friends? What if Joseph's family wanted their money back? The questions must have been many for that conflicted teen. She was invited to say yes to something that made no sense to her. Yet from the depths of who she really was, the chosen one, the gifted one, the graced one from all of eternity, she was able to muster what is now know as the ,"FIAT of Mary";
“I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to His will.” ~ Mary said not my will but your will be done!
So the long and difficult journey began. A journey that would take her to Bethlehem, on to Egypt, and on to Nazareth. Mary was promised that her Child would have the throne of David, what were her thoughts as she stood by the throne, of the cross? Her son was not crowned with a crown of gold, his crown was a crown of thorns? I like to ask this question, "Was Mary the most deceived woman in the scriptures?” Dispirited, disillusioned/ Not Mary. We see how strong in faith she was as she was in that room, with the other followers of her son, when The Spirit Of that same Son descended, "and the world was turned upside right". She was present when a new birthing of her Son took place. The physical body she gave birth to was now to have a Mystical presence.
So we have two strong women, chosen and blessed. One seeks out the other, and they meet. What an explosion resulted from that encounter. An encounter happens when those involved in the event look beyond the obvious, and come to see, and own the deeper reality. From that spiritual explosion was released blessings that have filtered down to you and I, these many centuries later. Gifts that must not be taken for granted. When taken for granted, leaves us empty, disheartened, and disillusioned with life. Gifts when reflected on, under the guidance of The Holy Spirit in prayer, adds vim, vigor, and vitality, to our lives. Our liturgical celebrations then take on a new meaning, leading to the deeper living of a life of peace, joy, and love. We then have Advent time, all the time.
Next week we will take a look, and a listen to the words and actions of Mary and Elizabeth. In the mean time take some time to reflect on these questions;
* Mary is present within me, each and every day.*
~ Where do I encounter her?
~ Who is Elizabeth for me right now?
~ Who do I choose to be Elizabeth to?
Reflect on the following, as individuals, as couples and as families.
“I, (we) will sing a new song. As difficult as it is, I must learn the new song that is capable of meeting the new need. I must fashion new words born of all the new growth in my life. My mind, and my spirit. I must prepare for new melodies that have never been mine before, that all that is within me may lift my voice unto God. How wiIl love, the old familiarity of the wearied melody, shrink from the harsh discords of new untried harmonies. Teach me, my Father, that I might learn the abandonment and enthusiasm of Jesus, the fresh new accent, the untried melody, to meet the need of the untried tomorrow.” ( Howard Thurman, "Meditations of the Heart" )
Where will you allow that to take you to? Mary, and Elizabeth gave voice, what words do they speak to and through you, right now?