"In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And 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 mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever." And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home." Luke 1:39-56 (ESV)Yesterday's Gospel Reading for the final Sunday in Advent gave me much to think about as we enjoyed a quiet Sunday. Much of it centered on Mary, mother of The Christ.
In my faith's journey, Ive encountered extremes in how this your maiden of Nazareth has been seen by professing Christians of all sides of the faith spectrum. Over the years, I've witnessed Mary elevated to the place of Co-mediatrix by some, to being almost completely marginalized by others; reducing her to a status slightly above being an egg donor. Now in Adventide, 2018, the wackiest of the fringe left have attempted to make her a poster child for the woman "#MeToo" movement by inferring that she was an unwilling victim of a sexual assault. I want to believe that no serious adult would see this latter assertion as being nothing beyond patent nonsense. Then, there's the sweet, sentimental Christmas ballad by Mark Lowry in & Buddy Greene, and performed by Michael English and a host of others. This song posited the idea that perhaps the fair Mary may not have known the import of the child developing in her womb.
Given the scope of Old Testament prophecy, only a relatively small population at the time of Christ's birth that could meet the profile of the one who was to bear the Christ Child. A Hebrew woman, a virgin of the Tribe of Judah and a descendant of the house of David who would be a Nazarene who found herself in labor in Bethlehem could be the one. Clearly, the providential hand of the Almighty was at work; she was the chosen one.
In engaging the fringe left or fluffy sentimentality of the popular culture, we can, through Saint Luke's account, demonstrate that Mary was not only cognizant of just what child she'd be carrying, but that she was a fully willing party to this Divine opus of grace. Her words as seen in the Magnificat capture this. Within this brief passage of the Gospel, Mary seems to speak as both poetess and prophetess, declaring the praises of the Almighty God and his promises to His people, Israel.
So, tonight as the sun sets on our individual worlds, the setting sun will light ablaze the fifth candle the Advent Wreath, and churches will be gathering to welcome the Christ Child afresh. And as we welcome Him once more, may we strive to apprehend an understanding of Mary, one that's rooted in Holy Scripture rather than popular culture.
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