Friday, December 18, 2015

Gospel Text for 4th Sunday of Advent, 20 December 2015

Luke 1:39-55        In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."
And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

Reflection  When you hear the words, Mary, Mother of God, what image comes to your mind? For the first part of my life my image of Mary, Mother of God was the tall, slender, blond girl in my Sunday School class wrapped in a pale blue sheet with a sparkling gold tinsel wreath in her hair. She was the chosen one. I, was not. Fortunately I didn’t have to spend too many therapy hours on Mary because in my iconoclastic Presbyterian church Mary made a singular cameo appearance -  once each year on Christmas Eve. The question is, what does the fleeting glimpse of blue eyed Mary have to do with the woman passionately singing The Magnificat, the Song of Mary?
Who is this Mary chanting a rousing love song to God?  Who is this Mary whose fervent words are stirred with fire?  She seems to be more like a robust woman in full possession of herself than an adorable cherubic preteen. Who is this first century Judean peasant woman who dares to sing a subversive  verse for social justice? How is it  mere Mary sees God turning the world upside down? This Mary is not fragile or ineffectual, neither is she submissive or impotent. No, this Mary is competent and vulnerable, full-bodied and fruitful. This Mary knows who she is and knows who God is.

When Mary encountered the Angel Gabriel, she didn’t run away, she didn’t become speechless and she didn’t get inflated. When the angel addressed Mary as “Favored one,” and announced, “The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1.28) Mary paused and pondered the angel’s words. Her quiet acceptance of the angel’s blessing suggests that Mary had a  sense of worthiness.  When the Angel proclaimed that even though she was unmarried Mary would become pregnant and give birth to a son who would receive the throne of King David and his kingdom would reign forever,” Mary was not paralyzed by the paradox of her poverty giving rise to such greatness. Instead she stood her ground and engaged the angel asking, “How can this be?”(Luke 1.38) When the angel explained that she would give birth to the Son of God,” Mary was both bold and vulnerable saying, “Here I am... let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1.38) 
I much prefer the stand up, engage God and let her life be changed Mary to the once a year adolescent Mary wrapped in a blue sheet. If it was up to me I would keep hail and hearty Mary at the center of our lives all year long because she shows us how to be in relationship with God, how to show up in our lives, how to live in the tension of paradox, how to be vulnerable and take risks all year long. Mary is the unequivocal revelation of what it means to be courageous; to show up, be vulnerable and take the risk of saying yes to “with God” life and in so doing be fully alive, blessed, transformed and fruitful.

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