Celebrating Provision

Luke 1:39-56

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a reminder to us of the provision of God. And because of that provision, we respond with joy, thanksgiving and praise.  Underlying all of this joy, thanksgiving and praise is the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who urges Mary to make haste to visit Elizabeth.  It is the Holy Spirit who moves Elizabeth to respond as she does, and it is the Holy Spirit who causes John to leap with joy in the womb because he is so near to the presence of Jesus.

In this “The Meeting of the Moms”, we have the aged Elizabeth, the mother-to-be of John the Baptist, and young Mary, the mother-to-be of Jesus the Christ.  Both women were granted these children under very unusual circumstances, to say the least!  Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah both were well advanced in years and had been unable to have children. Mary was not yet married, and as a virgin therefore she became pregnant in a most miraculous way.  Both women received their special roles in God’s plan with humility and faith. Both women rejoice in realizing what God is doing through them.

I'd like to focus for a moment on Elizabeth.  For those of us that at times don't see ourselves as youthful and vibrant as we once were, we can find encouragement in Elizabeth’s story.  We may see ourselves as being in the senior category right now. Or, we may be imagining (or worrying about) our life down the road as an older person.  Or still yet, we may know and love someone in their senior years.

Elizabeth was thought to be too old. In her own eyes, she was too old to do this new thing- having a baby. And yet, it became obvious that the whole of her life had been a preparation for this moment of availability. We should be encouraged that amidst the diminishments of aging, we can enjoy a tremendous liberation, a freedom of availability that we might not have known in our younger years.

Saint Paul discovered this near the end of his own life when he wrote, “So we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is transitory (meaning it can come and go), but what cannot be seen is eternal.” (2nd Corinthians)

Just as Elizabeth and Mary are relatives, so too are these two words - encouragement and courage.  One helps to promote the other.  The story of Elizabeth's personal courage should be inspirational in and of itself, but that courage is aided in this story by the encouragement that comes through grace delivered by the Holy Spirit.  And too, what about the encouragement that comes through the intercession of Mary?

As we feel our frailties coming on, as we feel our inadequacies seeming to overwhelm us at times, when our burdens make us feel like we want to give up, we can look to Mary who will help us through our anxieties and challenges.  Mary didn't just offer Elizabeth a pep talk and then go home to take care of her own needs (amidst her own pregnancy), she stayed with Elizabeth for the remaining 3 months of her pregnancy.  Mary promises to do the same for us in our time of need.  How can we expect any less of the one who is full of grace?

So, let us pray that we will be as inviting to the Holy Spirit and to Mary as Elizabeth was, and that we may have the same kind of gracious humility as was possessed by Elizabeth to say, "How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" 

And let us use the encouragement that we receive today through God's provision, both in the words that we receive here, and in the Eucharist, to grow in joy, thanksgiving and praise - so that we can say with confidence as Mary does: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."

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