Solemnity of the Assumption – Ordinary Time Cycle C
Reflecting on Luke 1: 39-56
Today’s Gospel, the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, tells us that Mary, a woman alone and with child, made a fifty-mile journey from Galilee to Ein Karem, in the hill country of Judea. Today a Catholic church stands at that site. Its many paintings depict Elizabeth and Mary, and other women of their time, as they went about the sacred business of keeping alive their religious traditions. It is surely the most “feminine” church in Christendom.
When Mary, now the ark of the covenant, the carrier of the Savior, arrives at her cousin’s home, she sings her Magnificat. What seems to be most on her mind, curiously, is not the news of her astonishing pregnancy, or even that of her old cousin. Instead, she wants to talk about God’s power to lift up the lowly and to fill the hungry with good things.
It makes you wonder what she saw on that road as she traveled. Did she see widows and orphans crying for food, cast far away from the safety nets of husbands and fathers? Did she see the executed Jews, whom the Romans crucified along well-traveled paths as reminders of the “Pax Romana”? When she arrived at her cousin’s, the unborn John sensed the presence of the true and only Prince of Peace. That six-month-old fetus was the first to recognize the Incarnation, traveling in the womb of his mother Mary. That should end any question of when life begins.
As the lovely Medical Missionaries’ hymn, The Visit, sings, There leaped a little child in the ancient womb. And there leaped a little hope in every ancient tomb.
Sharing God’s Word at Home
What do you think the young Mary was thinking about as she traveled to see her cousin?
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
This is a great question, Kathy. My thought is that Mary was pondering the reality of her situation — how on earth was she going to explain this pregnancy to her cousin? When John the Baptist leaped in Elizabeth’s womb, Mary’s problem was solved. Elizabeth’s response, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” gave way to Mary’s praise of God. Would that every pregnant woman could see the miracle of life and praise God unceasingly!
I have always wondered about that, I think that her trust in God, was so deep, that she accepted His will in everything. I think that She knew, that there was something special about all these. Her whole Life, she lived with full confindence in the trust of God. Something we all work at daily.Her sole was intrusted in God from the begining. but she still had to be human, an experience life as we all do, except her faith was so deep. Something we all work hard to accomplish, everyday.
This is may be my favorite reading. This is the strength of woman in faith, love and charity. Mary’s Obedience is what we ought to strive for. I think that the girls from that area grow up and marry as young as they did then. So her youth and innocence isn’t the only heroic act that we usually focus on, It’s the pure faith and obeience she shows through the whole life of Jesus that makes me ponder her goodness. I think as she walked that journey to see Elizabeth, she was thinking okay now what do I do, I’m suppose to marry Joseph and how will mom and dad take the news. And just how do you raise a God? The usual thoughts that a new mother to be think about in her shoes. She knew that it would work out, but how would it develope, who would believe her and so on. Then with a few spiri filled moments it was clear as water. The two babies knew each other and Elizabeth knew that her own miracle child was in the presence of the Promised One. And Mary and Jesus had thier first believers.
Good question! I think Mary must have still been filled with awe, so much had happened. I think she prayed on her journey, as she pondered and trusted that God would lead her every step.
I remember a talk I heard about Mary and how she was foreshadowed in Scripture as the Burning Bush, the Ark of the Covenant, the seat of Wisdom and then Crowned as the Queen of heaven and Earth. What beautiful images!
How our God loves us!
Great reflection, Kathy. I love that we get the Magnificat when we are thinking about the Assumption too. It fills the Magnificat with whole new meaning!
In the Assumption we celebrate a God who literally lifted up his humble handmaid to her exalted throne in the heavens! Truly Mother Mary, the Almighty has done great things for you! Do you think she prayed the Magnificat again during the Assumption? I also take great comfort that she continually prays for the anawim, the little ones, still on earth who need “lifting up” and reminds us that we are to make the Magnificat a reality in our love for the poor.
Do we think that Mary is the only one for whom God has done great things? If that’s the case, why are we still here? What would attract us to a God who quit after Mary’s Magnificat? Shouldn’t we all be writing a Magnificat of our own for all the great things God has done for us? Isn’t it all about praise and gratitude? If you had to write a Magnificat (and why don’t you — that is all of you) what “great things that God has done for you” would you include?
I LOVE THIS! Thanks, brebis galeuse, for this great question for all of us. Here’s mine:
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for God who is mighty has known me in my mother’s womb and kept me safe there, brought me to birth and given me breath every day of my life, held me up from the water’s reach, lifted me from the cavernous deep, sent me the Body of Christ to comfort and heal me.
God has given me more love than I can bear, more joy than my heart can possibly hold, more hope and strength and comfort than I need for today, but perhaps just enough for tomorrow.
OTHER (holy) is God’s name, and because God is OTHER I rejoice that God has looked on me in my lowliness and blessed me with an awareness of God’s presence, not always, but sometimes, and that grace has been enough for me so far. AMEN.
Meanwhile, I’m thrilled to see Gen215 in this week’s conversation. Thanks, Thomas, for your insightful connections.
Becky, I love the last sentence of your comments this week; at the Visitation Mary and Jesus had their first believers! I’d never thought of that. Perfect!
Donna and Defensor, you seem to sense a deep faith and love in Mary that I suspect has been operative in your own lives as well?
Thanks for the conversation, everyone!
Mary and Elizabeth’s joy when greeting each other does seem to be about more than their own personal miracles of their pregnancies, as Kathy said. From this discussion and going back to think about the passages again, Mary and Elizabeth become for me not only models for all mothers and all women, but for all people of faith. Because their joy seems to come from GOD’S MERCY TO THEIRS AND ALL PEOPLE, manifesting through them.
Deep down they must not have been unaware, in fact the process was already beginning, of knowing their children were to be a gift for all humanity, not for them as parents alone. So that being human, their motherhood would include pain and sacrifice few could imagine. But still their joy in what God could do for their people through them overpowered any concern for themselves.
Because I am a worrier, I always have to ask God to help me break through preoccupation with myself and my own personal world. If I could more easily let things go, I could know deeper joy in the Lord.
My soul hopes to magnify the Lord,
and my spirit will rejoice in God my savior.
How grateful I am that lovingly he looks upon his handmaid’s lowliness.
The MIghty One has done great things for me,
and holy is His name.
His mercy is from age to age
For even those like me who forget Him.
He lifts us up and fills our hunger with good things,
according to his steadfast promise.
May the Lord bring His mercy to others through me forever.
All people are gifts to the world. Recognizing that about our children is a sacred task of motherhood; to back off from an ownership mentality and realize what that God intended for Mary and Elizabeth as mothers, he intended for us all, in a way: to give them to the world with love and
Woops, I didn’t edit my comment completely. I meant to leave off that last paragraph; that’s why the last sentence was not finished. It’s great to comment on this web site; as you start to write, your thoughts about the topic evolve, and in my case today, pared down and got simpler. Sorry for not erasing the part I started out writing about and decided not to go into. Yet it is true about motherhood. I still don’t know what the last word would be. It’s hard to find a word that would emulate Mary and Elizabeth as mothers.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
He blessed me with two sons to love and cherish,
and he gave me strength to cope with the loss of each of them.
He has taught me to be grateful for my blessings and not to dwell on my losses.
Through chronic illness, he has given me compassion and graces.
He offered me his gift of faith in the face of a dysfunctional family,
and he rejoiced when I accepted that gift.
He has been merciful through my failures and joyful through my successes.
Holy is his name.
When I was a child I thought that Mary making haste to Elizabeth’s house meant that she just took off after saying farewell to her parents. And then, when I was on pilgrimage in Israel, I realized that would have been a very difficult, treacherous journey for a young, pregnant teenager alone. It is desert country and would have been a place for outlaws to hide and take advantage of the unaware. There’s the scorching heat during the day and bitter cold at night. Wind and blasts of sand can be blinding and the lack of water dangerous.
If I understand the culture of first century Palestine, for safety’s sake and because she was a woman, Mary would have travelled with a group of people. Perhaps she had some quiet time, but then again, perhaps her fellow journeyers included some very chatty women. How does one hold such a secret as Mary carried in her womb? And yet, it wouldn’t be the stuff of conversation with acquaintances. Her good news had to be treasured.
As much as I think about how wonderful it is to have contemplative time to really enjoy what is happening in my soul, life is all around me as it must have been for Mary—setting up camp, preparing food, sitting around a fire, wondering are we there yet?
So what was Mary thinking about as she moved not only toward Ein Karem, but also deeper into the stillness of who she was and what was happening to her? She was probably praying for a safe journey. Perhaps she was asking God why she was chosen, what made her the one to be mother to the Messiah. As she walked on, I do believe the poor and the burdened, the weak and the innocent were all around her, and as Kathy mentioned, the “signs of Rome’s peace.” What an awful sight! Perhaps her thoughts and longings went to how their lives could be transformed. Jesus was named “Savior.” Was her prayer like any other mother’s just saying his name that she heard the angel whisper to her? Would Jesus be able to overcome all this pain that was part of the people and situations she met along the way?
They still show up in newspapers and on the internet every day. How does one hold in contradiction the peace that God offers when war abounds? How does one embrace forgiveness in one hand and sentence an inmate to death? In the 21st century how does a woman in the Middle East get sentenced to 99 lashes for talking with a man or 200 lashes for being raped? How do we forget the story of the Annunciation, Visitation and Nativity?
Someplace during the journey Mary recognized hope, possibility and God’s Divine Imagination at work. When she met Elizabeth, it could not be contained and poured out of her in praise. The journey of about fifty miles and maybe two weeks brought her to such an awareness of God in the now, that there could only be the power of God at work. Both women knew God’s presence. John leapt in his mother’s womb. I have to wonder if we wouldn’t dance a lot more if we were more aware of God-with-us, Emmanuel. But perhaps before we are surprised enough to take a leap, we have to set off on a journey, one that moves us from a relatively safe place, into the desert with strangers, where it’s dangerous to our ideas, our thought patterns, our very lives. Then we can cross over into the kind of expectation that Mary had and the truth that she discovered.