August 15, 2022
Luke 1: 39-56
Luke’s Gospels of both the Annunciation and the Visitation convincingly present Mary as both the first to hear and to accept the good news of Jesus Christ, but also the first to proclaim it. As such, she is both the first and the model disciple.
In today’s much-loved reading describing the encounter of the two Mothers at Elizabeth’s home, Mary has hastened to this visitation not from concern over Elizabeth’s pregnancy but in whole-hearted, obedient response to God’s plan revealed by the angel Gabriel. She hastens to proclaim to others this good news which she has always lived and loved.
Luke is known for his counter-cultural acknowledgement of the role of women throughout his Gospel. Here he alerts us to the extraordinary status of Elizabeth: she is filled with the Holy Spirit and thus is able to speak as Prophet, interpreting the leaping of her child which foreshadows the relationship between her son and Mary’s son. Luke uniquely presents Elizabeth as Prophet and Mary as First Disciple.
The words of Mary’s Magnificat also reveal her own ministry of prophecy; she doesn’t just repeat the good news but she interprets it for Elizabeth and Zechariah, and for all of us who have encountered her words throughout time. Mary interprets God’s Word so that we too can experience God’s truth as truly good news for our time and place and life circumstances: “God has lifted up the lowly and filled the hungry with good things. God has remembered the promise of mercy, the promise God made to our ancestors forever.”
Elizabeth has put our own deepest convictions into words. Speaking to Mary, but also certainly speaking to us (Sisters, Associates, Friends of Notre Dame, Companions in faith, Seekers), she exclaims “Blessed are you (yes, you!) who believed (and continue to believe) that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Blessed are we who choose to believe in times of fear and darkness and pandemic, in times of great uncertainty, in times of war, inflation, and disregard for truth. Blessed are we who believe – who hear, accept, and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
In my own part of the Notre Dame Family (California), August 15th is a traditional time for the celebration of Jubilees. Together we lift up the goodness of our God shining out through the lives of our Sisters: 685 years worth of prayer and service, suffering and joy, of prophecy and discipleship. Blessed, truly blessed are these extraordinary women who believed and who still believe…and who hasten to proclaim God’s good news to us and to all to whom God has sent them.
Luke 1: 39-56
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 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.”
And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.”
Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
The Gospel of the Lord