To read the texts click on the texts: Mic 5:1-4; Heb 10:5-10; Lk 1:39-44
The visitation of Blessed
Virgin Mary is often interpreted as Mary’s concern for Elizabeth. Mary had
heard from the angel that Elizabeth was in her six month and so rushes to her
aid. This is true but only at the very superficial level. If this were the only
point, then it would seem strange that Mary who rushed to Elizabeth’s aid would
leave after three months of her arrival there i.e. soon after Elizabeth’s
delivery of John – a time when she should really get all the help
that she would need. Thus Luke makes a deeper point when he narrates the
incidents of the visitation. It is that Mary was so full of the ‘good news’
that she could not contain it within herself but had to share it. It was ‘good
news’ not only for her but for the whole world.
This good news is what Micah
speaks about in the first reading of today. The ruler of Israel is struck upon
the cheek with a rod, things seem to be totally out of control and there is a
feeling of being closed in all sides and defeat is staring us in the face. Yet,
there shall come forth one who is to rule and take control over the most
distressing situation. This movement from suffering to hope reminds us that God
is at work to see that our individual life-pilgrimage will move in the same
direction. Micah’s words repeat again and again the liberating intention of God
not to let people remain trapped in their experience of exile. It is important
to note that these hopeful words from Micah do not belittle the reality of
suffering. Pain is taken seriously and is part of the human condition. However,
the point is that even in the midst of pain there is hope. God is working to
make all things well. The mention of both Bethlehem and Ephrathah makes a
double connection with David, including both geographic location and family
identification. The small size of Bethlehem, which is one of the little clans
of Judah, is of no consequence to God, When God is about to do something great,
human estimates of status, size, power, and influence are completely
irrelevant. In fact, God often deliberately chooses someone whom we would
probably dismiss as the most unlikely candidate for carrying out God’s mission.
This is evident in the choice
of Mary chosen by God to bring Jesus into the world. She was from Nazareth, an
obscure village, from which the Messiah was not expected. She was a simple
village girl. Yet, it was she who was chosen, to be part of the earth
shattering event that would change the course of history forever. The
Incarnation occurred within a very real world, a limited world, a broken world,
a world that was very much in need of healing.
Mary’s visit to Elizabeth was
done in haste or urgency. Mary wanted to share such wonderful news. Elizabeth
responds to Mary’s visit with four oracles. The first declares the blessedness
of Mary. Elizabeth recognizes that Mary is blessed by God because of her
openness and generosity. The second oracle discloses the identity of the child
in Mary’s womb. The child is indeed the Lord. The third explains the leap that
the child in Elizabeth’s womb gives. It is a leap of joy. Even in the womb of
his mother, John the Baptist begins his role as the precursor or pointer to
Jesus. The fourth and final oracle speaks of unconditional faith and trust. It
speaks of the courage to believe even when things are in the future. It speaks
of total confidence in God’s word, knowing fully well that even if all evidence
seems to point to the contrary, God will fulfill what is promised. This is the
confidence of Mary. It is the confidence with which she dared not merely to say
Yes to God but to add that it be done to her according to God’s will. This was
because she knew that what God could do in her would be infinitely greater than
when she could ever do, even with God’s help. This attitude of Mary resulted in
her womb becoming the location in which the greatest of all events would take
place. Her womb became the place in which all expectations would be exceeded.
Her womb became that place in which not merely would a ruler be born, but in
which the king of all kings would take residence. Her womb became God’s first
home on earth.
The letter to the Hebrews
confirms Mary’s disposition and attitude when it speaks about the disposition
and attitude of Jesus. His focus was to do God’s will and to let it be done to
him. Like Mary, Jesus too knew that what God could accomplish in him would be
infinitely greater than anything else.
As we stand at the threshold
of Christmas, we are invited to adopt the attitude of Mary. It is true that
even today things are not as they ought to be. It is true that injustice,
prejudice, disharmony, intolerance and fanaticism still raise their ugly heads.
It is true that the poor are becoming poorer today than they were some years
ago and the rich have only gotten richer and often at the expense of the poor.
Like Mary we are challenged to believe that if we let it be done to us, Christ
will be born in our minds and hearts and the vision of Micah for a just world
will be fulfilled because our God lives in our world.