Reflections on the Word
Micah 5:1-4a; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45.
4th Sunday of Advent cycle C
December 20, 2015
Sr. Phyllis Jaszkowiak
Today’s Gospel tells of the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth, both pregnant by God’s hand in their lives. This story in Luke’s Gospel has many things to ponder.
The story has no men’s voices in it, only women’s voices are heard. In a culture that thought men were the only ones who could speak for God, this story shows us that all people can speak for God if we listen to the Spirit within us.
Listening to the Spirit within takes practice, and both Mary and Elizabeth listened as they went about their daily lives, and took time for prayer and meditation. This practice enabled them to hear God’s word when it was spoken to them.
Mary, the young teen-ager, pregnant by some chance encounter with an angel and the Holy Spirit, seeks the counsel of Elizabeth, the older wise-woman, who also knows God’s word and rejoices in it.
When they encounter one another, Spirit speaks to Spirit, and the child in the womb leaps for joy.
As we ponder this story we can reflect on our own lives and what this might mean for us today in our culture.
In the story God chose the lowly ones, those with no power, no might, no influence, just some lowly women who went about the daily tasks of keeping the house. Rarely in Scripture does God call people who have wealth, or power, or influence. God usually calls the poorest, the most lowly, those on the margins, sometimes even the outcast, to do whatever God sees as needing to be done.
Most of us fit into that category. We really don’t have much influence or power, and we usually just go about our daily lives. However, if we listen to the Spirit within each of us, we will, at various times, hear the Spirit speak telling us to do this or that for the good of our community and our world. Usually that means banding together to push for the changes that are needed. This is the gift behind all community organizing, together we can change things.
One of the things we are working on right now in our neighborhoods is affordable housing. Each of us on our own might not make any difference, but together we can make things better for more people.
Mary sought Elizabeth who was older, more experienced, wiser, and knew how to listen well to the Spirit within. Mary, the younger, needed this wisdom in order to make sense of what was happening to her, in order to carry through this request of God to bear this child.
The writer Mary McGlone says it this way: “Because they [Mary and Elizabeth] knew they could not accomplish this by themselves, they did not limit God to their own abilities or expectations. They were empty enough to become full of grace.” (Mary McGlone. NCR December 4-17, 2015)
We have a lot of wisdom in our parish and we need to be able to share our wisdom with each other. We do that through building up relationships among ourselves, so that we will know to whom to turn for the wisdom we need to go ahead in life, with joy and peace.
This kind of life takes a lot of humility, a lot of prayer, alone and together, and taking the time to get to know one another. As we read the list of those who are sick each Sunday, think about how many you know personally, and maybe decide to get to know at least one more on that list. Then when we pray for them, we can really lift them up to God, in the way that Elizabeth lifted up Mary when they first greeted each other – Spirit to Spirit.
Elizabeth greeted Mary with the words, “For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” I think that greeting helped Mary make sense of what happened to her, and gave her the courage to raise her child, let him go to do his ministry, become a disciple herself, be with him when he died, and more than likely be the glue that held the first Christian community together.
We are all called to be like Mary and Elizabeth, helping each other, sharing our gifts of wisdom with each other, caring for each other, and being the foundation of our Christian community. We are all to be Christ-bearers, the People of God, the people who embody the Spirit, in our world, our culture, our time.
Mary McGlone. NCR December 4-17, 2015