“In those days” . . . and so starts the story once again of Jesus birth. I have to wonder if Jesus, as a young child, asked his mother about his birth. I can image Mary telling her young son that she was very surprised when she found out she was going to have a baby, especially such a special one. “So,” she might have said, “I went to visit cousin Elizabeth, because I knew I could count on her advice as to what to do. Imagine my surprise when I found out she was going to have a baby too, your cousin John!”
“In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” (Luke 1:39-45)
While fathers play an important role in the raising of any child (and tragically so if their role is a neglectfully absent one), it mothers who raise their children from little on up and set the course for their lives. You have to believe that John’s and Jesus’ mothers were strong women who faced much during their pregnancies. And they raised children who went on to do great things. Okay, yes, the Divine Parent probably had a good deal to do with that, but these women were especially chosen to raise up men of God, AND the Son of Man!
If you had not guessed, this is the special day during this lectionary week. I have chosen the gospel passage and the psalm passage to focus on; also cited are passages from the Old Testament and the Epistles. But I went with these two.
“And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Verses 45 – 55)
Yesterday I hinted broadly that this week was going to be for the women in my reading audience, beloved reader. I do not think you guessed I would be pulling out the “big names” to prove my point that much of Christianity rests upon the women in the bible. [If you did however, kudos to you!] The Lord God has used women in mighty ways. Many of the men in the bible would not have accomplished all the God had ordained for them if there were not women doing the work and carrying out God’s plans and aims. I am not saying that it was solely the women, but women stand as spiritual forebearers as much as men. Mary’s words in this passage bring glory to women and glory to God for raising up strong women of faith. And as I said yesterday, this week is for the women!
“And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.” (Verses 56 – 57)
From God to Elizabeth, chosen to give birth to the messenger who would herald the coming for Jesus. From God to Mary, chosen to give birth to our Savior. Such simple acts, amongst humanity, giving birth. It happens millions of times through the globe. But these were special women. Special births, the like of which has not been repeated. Let us remember these women, my beloved sisters. And commit our own lives to God’s service. Selah!
“Praise the Lord!
Praise, O female servants of the Lord; praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time on and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
He raises . . . women . . . from the dust . . . where too often society has pushed then down, and lifts . . . them . . . from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord!”
(Psalms 113 – adapted slightly for women)