After receiving God’s call, announcing that she will be the mother of the Messiah, Mary sets out alone on a journey. A new life is beginning for her, serving her Son Jesus. She walks «rapidly», decidedly. She feels the need to share her joy with her cousin Elizabeth, and help out as soon as she can in those last months of pregnancy.
The meeting of the two mothers is a special scene. The men aren’t around. Only two simple women, with no title or relevance in the Jewish religion. Mary, who is carrying Jesus with her everywhere she goes, and Elizabeth who is full of prophetic spirit and dares to bless her cousin in God’s name.
Mary enters Zachariah’s house, but doesn’t head to him. She goes directly to greet Elizabeth. None of us knows the content of her greeting. Only that her greeting fills the house with an overflowing joy. It’s the joy that Mary lives out from the moment she heard the Angel’s greeting: «Rejoice, O full of grace».
Elizabeth can’t contain her surprise and her joy. As soon as she heard Mary’s greeting, she feels the movements of the child she carries in her womb and she interprets them as only a mother would as «leaps of joy». Immediately she blesses Mary «with a loud cry», saying: «Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb».
At no point does she call Mary by her name. She’s contemplating her as completely identified with her mission: she’s the mother of her Lord. She sees her as a believing woman in whom God’s plans will keep being fulfilled: «Blessed are you because you have believed».
What’s most surprising is what Mary does. She hasn’t come to show her dignity as mother of the Messiah. She’s not there to be served but to serve. Elizabeth can’t get over her astonishment. «Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord?».
Many are the women who don’t live peacefully within the Church. Some of them have grown disaffected and discomforted. They suffer when they see that, in spite of being the main collaborators in so many areas, they hardly count when it’s time for thinking, deciding, and pushing forward the Church’s path. This situation is doing damage to all of us.
The weight of a history that is fully secular, controlled and dominated by men, keeps us from being conscious of the impoverishment that it means for the Church to do without a more effective presence of woman. We don’t listen to them, but God can raise up believing women, full of prophetic spirit, who spread joy to us and give the Church a more human face. They will be a blessing. They will teach us to follow Jesus more passionately and more faithfully.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf