Two New Mothers by Rev. Paul Grankauskas
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Written to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."
One cannot help but be moved by the beautiful episode recounted in today's Gospel. Here we have two new mothers meeting and sharing their joy. But, these two moms have not come together to swap pregnancy stories. And, although Mary will remain with Elizabeth throughout the remainder of the latter's pregnancy, there is more to this visit than simply caring for a cousin.
Both of these pregnancies are out of the ordinary. Elizabeth was old, barren, thought beyond being able to have children. Her child will be the prophet of the Most High. Mary, while yet a virgin, conceives by the power of the Holy Spirit. Her child is the son of the Most High, the one who will save us from our sins. Elizabeth is quick to recognize the significance of Mary's son: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Even the baby John the Baptist gets in on the act, leaping for joy in his mother's womb because our salvation is so close at hand.
In other words, when these two mothers meet, they rejoice in the awesome work of God. This meeting is not necessarily about them. This is about what God has done for them and what He will do for all men through Mary's offspring.
If we cannot help but be caught up in the joy of this moment, nor can we help being struck by Mary's love and humility. It is easy enough to get a big head if someone says they like a homily I have given. It is easy enough to get a big head any time someone praises us for some good that we have done. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to know that your child was conceived by the Holy Spirit and is the Holy One of God. Mary could easily have sought more privileges for herself, could easily have thought that Elizabeth's greeting was no more than what was her special due.
But, if we know the rest of this story, then we know that Mary claimed no special honor for herself. Instead, she breaks forth into a hymn of praise: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior."
Mary know full well this child is not simply God's gift to her. He is the Father's gift to the world, and Mary is quick to share that gift with Elizabeth. We know that our time, talents, and treasures are not simply God's gifts to us, but we can and ought to put them at the service of to hers. Our Lord once said that what we do for others - feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the sick - we do for Him. In serving those in need, we bring the love of Christ to those who are sick, suffering, or poor, just the way Mary brought Christ to Elizabeth and the world.
When we practice true charity, we have no need for, nor should we seek, the praise of others. Rather, we imitate the humility of Mary, and we give thanks to God for the opportunity to serve Him.
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