Dec 21, 2018

God Expanding

The Evangelist St. Luke has told us through the pages of the Gospel, the experience of the pregnant Virgin Mary, who "went with haste into the hill country" (Lk 1: 39) to reach the village where her cousin Elizabeth lived with her husband Zechariah.

Elizabeth is six months pregnant with John the Baptist.  Mary, of course, is pregnant with Jesus - two mothers-to-be, and two unborn babies. There is the stirring of something profound, not only in their own family life but also in the salvation history of the people of Israel - indeed the world.

What compelled the young Mary to make a long journey through the hills to visit her older cousin, to forget herself, and to spend the first three months of her own pregnancy looking after Elizabeth? 

In the timeline of the Gospel, we have just listened to, Mary has only recently become pregnant – a pregnancy without ever being touched by a man. The breath of God filled her womb - “the power of the Highest overshadowed her (cf. Lk 1: 35) - she conceived by the eternal power of the Holy Spirit. In that secret and sacred space within her, a divine person, now infused within the building blocks of a growing, developing and evolving embryo, God has entered into the most intimate, and the most vulnerable place we have ever been.    

But, this is not just a biological miracle. God entrust Himself to the building blocks of life that Mary offers him through her body.  The intimate God, waiting to the born into the world, resonates from deep within Mary's womb, and from there throughout all her body. This young pregnant mother experiences the fullness of God’s love. But not simply for her. Through her, God physically reaches out gently towards every man, woman, and child who longs in the secret of their own heart to experience a love deeper than what we could ever desire or even dare to hope for.

It is the power of the physical presence of God within her, that compels the young Mary to "rise" and depart without hesitation (cf. Lk 1: 39) on that long journey to help her cousin. Mary does not think of herself, her own neediness.  The reaching out of God to humanity is now expanding from within her. Her divine child in her womb moves her. Her own immaculate heart, fully formed, has become joined to that tiny, beating sacred heart, as it’s best becomes stronger and stronger within her. Mary's natural instincts already of a mother and a friend have become united to her unborn baby's divine instinct reach out to bond with all humanity.  

When Mary arrives at the house of Elizabeth, St. Luke tells us that even the Virgin Mother Mary’s voice carried within it the divine frequency that was picked up by Elizabeth’s own unborn baby who leaped within her for joy. We enter into the unfolding of a drama, a sense that Mary’s physical presence holds within as if behind locked doors ready to be flung open, the God who can't wait to breathe our air, to touch our face, to be held in our embrace.

During these final hours of Advent in preparation for Christmas, a medieval mystic, St. Julian of Norwich, can prepare us for what is stirring. She connects divinity with the intimacy of motherhood as God takes our human nature. In doing so the “motherhood of grace” is conceived and nurtured, labored and nursed with the assurance that "…All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well".

Together with St Elizabeth and her own baby, John the Baptist, we too can rejoice at the presence of Mary when we say, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" (Lk 1:42). May Jesus Christ, the blessed fruit of the Virgin Mary's womb, bless our families and the neighborhoods of our parish as we get ready for Christmas.

Hail Mary, full of grace.
 The Lord is with thee.
 Blessed art thou amongst women 
 and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. 
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
 pray for us sinners, 
now and at the hour of our death.

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