How beautiful is this morning’s Gospel passage! Of course God’s Word is always beautiful – as is everything He is and does, but there is something so special to me in hearing these words:
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.
There is such an eager joy in that phrase “in haste”. This passage in Luke 1:39 comes immediately after Mary’s words to the Angel Gabriel in Luke 1:38 - Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” What a powerful image and example we see in our Mother Mary! It is almost as if she can hardly wait to give Jesus, having received Him with the whole of her being. She sets out in haste to the hill country having heard the angel tell her that her cousin Elizabeth has also conceived. No wonder Mary is called Mother of our faith. She believed the angel’s words to her and she lived the Truth she heard, always.
Mary, our Mother, help us to give our lives completely to the working out of God’s Plan in our lives as you did, walking this earth. Intercede for us that we may receive Jesus and become so united to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are compelled by His Love to “set out…in haste” to do His Will, wherever His Spirit leads us, and share Jesus with whomever our Father draws to Him.
AMEN, yes everything God has done for us is beautiful and so wonderfully mysterious as we spend our lives contemplating what HE has shared with us. Including the perfect Mother of HIS Perfect SON. God Bless, Memaw
Thanks for your reply. Mary seen as “Ark of the Covenant” has long been an understanding in the Catholic Church. Many Fathers of the Church have written about it. The link below will take you to many quotes from the saints and this from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the Ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God . . . with men.” (CCC 2676).
We were traveling this weekend and the priest commented that Elizabeth was a post-menopausal woman in a high risk pregnancy being visited by Mary, an unwed pregnant 16 year old engaged to a poor manual laborer, so Jesus was born into a family dealing with multiple high stress situations. He chose to share even our stress.
Thanks for your reply. Maybe those comments impressed you, we are all different. Personally, I want to hear the Gospel as it was written. It seems to me, some preachers try to make homilies “more modern” by using their own words to retell the Gospel. I prefer to hear the beauty of God’s Word as it is! I want to listen to what God is telling us through Luke in the passage from Luke 1: 39 - 45. It can help to hear a particular passage better, if we listen also to what comes before and what comes after the passage.
For instance in Luke 1: 6 - 7 we hear about Zechariah and Elizabeth: “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years.” When the angel appears to Zechariah, he says “Do not be afraid, Zechariah for your prayer is heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you shall call his name John…” When the angel appeared to Mary, he said again, “Do not be afraid, Mary…” (Luke 1:30)
If we are listening carefully I do not think we hear “stress” - so much as we hear how God answers prayers, and how important it is to believe that nothing is impossible with God. God knew all about our lives on earth before the Incarnation. He chose to become one of us that we might learn to become like Him. Mary is the human person who embodies all we are called to be in Christ. It seems to me Mary was not stressed, but rather she asked how she could do what God was revealing to her.
Luke 1: 39 in which we hear “Mary went with haste …” comes immediately after the words in Luke 1:38: “Behold I am the Handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word”. It can help to look up words in a translation searching for additional meanings from the original Greek in which the New Testament was written. For instance, the Greek word for “haste” can also mean earnestness, or zeal. That helped me to appreciate Mary’s going with haste to visit Elizabeth. It didn’t simply mean she “hurried” but there was an earnestness, and a zeal to go to her cousin, after hearing the angel’s message.
This is a rather long response to a short comment but I believe God’s Word is sacred and deserves to be heard deeply within our souls as God’s Word to us, personally. As Mary listened and believed and acted on the Word she heard, so we need to ask for God’s Grace that we , like Mary, may hear His Truth and do the Truth we hear.
Mary was NOT unwed. She was Betrothed to Joseph, meaning married to him. She had not moved into his home yet as was the custom then, but they were legally married. When the Angel appeared to Joseph, he said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary, YOUR WIFE, into your home, the child she is carrying is the Son of God.” Do you really think God would put Mary into such a situation??? God Bless, Memaw
I agree with you. Mary and Joseph were betrothed, and in the Jewish tradition this meant a legal marriage, but Joseph had not taken her yet to live with him. Mary’s situation, however, when it was first known to Joseph was difficult for him because the Scripture tells us he was thinking to “divorce her quietly”. Joseph knew he was not the father of the child. If he were to expose Mary as carrying a child, that was not his, she could be stoned as an adulteress. He was thinking to divorce her quietly to save her from reproach and possible death.
God reveals to us how Mary trusted in His Divine Providence to care for her. She believed the Angel who told her “Nothing is impossible for God”. Joseph took Mary to live with him as the angel directed him and the Holy Family was seen always as “ordinary”. As I replied to 57classic, I think some preachers try to make their homilies more “modern” by retelling the Gospel in their own words. It seems to me there is great danger in this because the Gospel narrative can be distorted by mere human imagination. People can actually misunderstand the Truth God revealed and begin making up their own narratives.
Today’s Gospel is the beautiful Magnificat of Mary (LK 1:46-56) and the first reading is from the Old Testament (1 SM 1:24-28). Hannah likewise praised God for her son Samuel given to her by God. Hannah is a sweet prefigure of Mary. Thanks for your reply, Meemaw.
It wasn’t in the homily. The priest made those remarks after processing to the sanctuary, before beginning the Mass as a way to get the attention of the congregation, to draw attention away from THEIR holiday stresses, which could be serious or trivial but to point out that Jesus was not born into a family free of troubles.
We are not told of how people probably remembered for her entire life, how Mary was found to be pregnant before she lived with Joseph. He was asking us to imagine in detail, as we listened to the words of the Gospel, how life would be for Mary and Joseph, the whispers about Jesus and all the consequences that would proceed from Mary and Joseph’s individual fiats. Both said yes totally trusting in God, without considering how it would affect the rest of their lives. They simply trusted.
It is good to hear the words of the Gospel and I have spent this Advent contemplating how profoundly Mary and Joseph’s individual declarations of trust in God changed the world. What if Joseph had said no? Mary didn’t even consider that. Did she ever regret her yes? Of course not. Did they ever even fleetingly wonder what they had gotten themselves into? Did they wonder what’s next? They trusted absolutely. They set their feet on the path and prayed for guidance in everything. Those are the intimate details not in the Gospel that I meditate on and am constantly in awe of their commitment to God.
Thanks for your reply. I’m glad it wasn’t in the homily. Sometimes, as I mentioned in my previous reply, priests and people can deviate from the Gospel and begin to imagine what God did not reveal. Our finite minds need to be humble before infinite mystery and prayerfully keep listening to God’s Word in Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church.
Far better to keep listening to the words of Scripture than to our often dubious imaginations. I do not mean to offend you or anyone in saying these things but I have heard too may among clergy and people making up their own Gospel and then teaching it as if it were Gospel Truth. We need to treat God’s Word with reverence.
I certainly agree with you that we need to be in awe of Mary’s and Joseph’s trust in God. The little we have in the Scripture about them is enough to keep us in awe for our whole lives.
His homily was about mercy. He began by saying Hurt people, hurt people and told a story about a woman to whom he regularly took Communion who was hateful and nasty to everyone she encountered. He finally asked her if she wanted someone else to bring the Eucharist to her saying he didn’t think he was doing her any good. As he turn to go, she said please don’t stop coming, She cried that she had made a terrible mistake early in her life, she was a total success in her field, a millionaire but had chosen her career over her fiance and was now alone, no husband, no family at all.
He told her he also had no spouse, no children but he has the whole church and if she would reach out to those who are there, staff, other consumers in the home, she would find “family” as there were so many others in the home who were also lonely.
The next time he came the staff wanted to know what he had said that had made such a change in her.
In closing he reminded us it is the Year of Mercy, that those who need mercy are often the ones who are pushing others away because of pain of their own causing.
As we left and everyone around me was wishing Father a Merry Christmas, I told him that his homily had brought me to tears and he appeared stricken, perhaps no one had ever told him before that he had reached them with his words. Priests need encouragement too.
Again, I agree with you, in that we need to pray for, and to encourage our clergy, even as we need to pray for, and encourage our religious, and also one another in our lay vocations.
Often a priest or deacon may include in his homily some experience to help people come closer to God, but the main purpose of the homily is to “break open the bread of God’s Word” to feed the people of God. We are to be fed both by the Liturgy of the Word and by the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Certainly the Year of Mercy is important and so is the need for all of us to reach out to others and be merciful as our Heavenly Father is Merciful. Father might have brought those two things into his homily after sharing the Gospel message of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. Mary is the Mother of Mercy. She is Mother and Model for the Church.
We are suffering from a crisis of faith in our world today, and Pope St. John Paul II saw it coming, 30 years ago saying:
…When one moves away from the Mother, sooner or later he ends up keeping distant from the Son as well. It is no wonder that today in various sectors of secularized society, we note a widespread crisis of faith in God preceded by a drop in devotion to the Virgin Mother” … (Address of Pope St. John Paul II on October 30, 1982).
Our Catholic clergy need to preach God’s Word to strengthen the faith of God’s People and to strengthen their own own faith as well. They cannot give what they do not have. Clergy need to continue to ponder the Scripture prayerfully. Their studies do not end with their seminary classes. They also need to include Mary whenever they can in their preaching because many Catholics have drifted and are drifting away from both Mother and Son. In God’s Word, we hear His Truth: “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
Occasionally, yes, personal experiences can help but they can never be a substitute for God’s Word. The saints were and are still imbued with the Gospel; may we all treasure God’s Word in our hearts as Mary did, that we may bring Him to others. What a glorious sight it would be if after Mass, every Catholic set out as Mary did, with haste, to bring Jesus to others!