The person who should be preaching this Sunday should be a pregnant woman. Only she could grasp the dynamics of the visit of Mary to Elizabeth. These two chosen and expectant mothers meet. Mary frightened by the mystery of it all, “the holy spirit will come upon you and the child we be called ‘son of God.’” And Elizabeth overwhelmed by the wonder of it all. “she who is called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible with God” Elizabeth’s unborn child catches his mother’s excitement at the unexpected visit of her cousin Mary and leaps in his mother’s womb. He kicked.
Luke tells us that Mary went in haste to the hill country of Judea. This short sentence can’t tell the whole story of Mary’s journey. As is the case today so it was in Mary’s day women in Middle Eastern countries did not go anywhere alone. It would be brazen, unthinkable. She would have to be accompanied by a male member of the family. How that was arranged, Luke doesn’t say. Mary probably joined a caravan. The trip from Nazareth in Galilee where Mary lived to a village in Judea where Elizabeth lived would take four days. Tradition says Elizabeth lived in a village called Am Karen, about eight kilometers west of Jerusalem. It was not an easy journey for a 14 year-old girl in the first stages of her pregnancy. But Mary was determined to be there to help her cousin Elizabeth in the last stages of her pregnancy.
As we think about this meeting of these two chosen pregnant women, each waiting for their time to deliver the life within them maybe we could wonder about our own selves. What is in our own lives that seeks to be born, seeks to come alive and be shared with others?
We all have within us something which has yet to be born, a potential yet to be realized.
What is that ‘something’ in any of our relationships that has yet to be born and grow and enrich that relationship? Could it be a more honest intimacy? Could be a deeper appreciation of the person or persons we say we love? Could it be an admission of our own inadequacy to relate to another in a deeper way? Could it be the possibility of admitting our own weaknesses and short comings and then work toward a healing in our relationships?
Young people are filled with possibilities yet to be realized. They have gifts and talents yet to be discovered and when they are discovered they have to be accepted for the gifts they are and finally nurtured and encouraged. The frustration of many young people today is the limited job opportunities open to them to use their gifts and talents and education.
What about the elderly, what are the possibilities yet to be realized in their lives? Could it be their ability, their willingness to live with their limitations, their willingness to acknowledge there are some things they just can’t do anymore and be at peace with that reality? Could it be their willingness to find new interests and projects in their lives? They say you can’t teach old dog new tricks, but you can if you know more tricks than the dog. Could it be their willingness to fight the tendency to lock themselves away in loneliness, imagining they have nothing to offer to the lives of those around them? Could they find the courage of young Mary and be willing to journey to another place, enter someone else’s life and offer them comfort and support?
How open are we to the mysteries of our own tomorrows? Would we be willing, like the young Mary, to take the risk and go in haste to whatever God calls us and be with those who need our presence, our concern and compassion and support?
I mentioned that Mary and Elizabeth were chosen women, but we are all chosen. St. Paul tells us that before the world began God chose each of us in Christ to be his adopted sons and daughters, chosen to live our lives as Christ lived his.
Pope Paul VI described Mary as ‘she whose life was available to God.’ Our lives are meant to be available, open to God and to all those things to which God calls us in the ordinary circumstances of our ordinary lives. Do we ever wonder about the things God may be calling us to do and be? Are we willing to go with Mary in haste to those who need us?