Luke 13: 1-9
We are close to Christmas, wondering where the year has gone and whether everything on our list will be done in time. Today’s readings confront us with the image of Hannah, a mother who gives her child over to the Lord, a child she longed for, prayed for, and nourished and loved for three years. It seems impossible to think she will let him go. And Mary, whose child is given from God to her, to nourish and love and eventually also give back to God.
There is a lot about Christmas that centres on the love of a parent for their child, but today’s Gospel takes us instead to Elizabeth and the care that Mary showed to her in her time of need. The trip from Nazareth to Ein Karim, where Elizabeth lived, was a difficult and dangerous trip through the desert. It is the same trip that Mary and Joseph make again a few months later to be in Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. Mary’s words in the beautiful prayer of the Magnificat don’t dwell on the difficult journey but rather on the deeds of God. They are said in response to Elizabeth’s recognition of Mary’s own pregnancy “Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Mary’s response is prayed each evening as part of the Evening Prayer of the Church, and it signals the change that the Messiah will bring into the lives of all who believe.
Margaret Bentley is a Salesian Sister and is currently the Academic Manager at the English Language Studies for Pastoral Ministry (ELSPM) begun by the Passionists in 2014 to enable their students to learn English before continuing to the Novitiate or theological studies.