Blessed Are We
Mary and Elizabeth stand in this tradition of women who took action confidently and courageously, aware of their significance in the divine plan for Israel. I say this without attempting to conceal or minimize the violence to which some of these women resorted in a violent context.
I mentioned earlier that this scene of two expectant mothers has an impact that extends to the present day. It intends to have an impact on each of us. It intends to remind us that, even though we have not received angelic visitations or inward leapings, we have a role to play in God' efforts to redeem the world.
The Holy Spirit descended last week at Pentecost. In this scene, it was already active, filling Elizabeth so she was moved to pronounce a blessing on Mary (Lk. 1:41). It has not now left and gone on an extended summer vacation. The Spirit remains, within us and around us. And one of the Spirit's functions is to get us in touch with the gifts we have been given and the role we are to play as we cooperate, in all the scenes of our daily lives, with God's purpose to redeem the world. The Spirit also reminds us of the end game. Justice for everyone God has created, which will involve reversals of fortune and status we can either cooperate with or oppose.
Luke's account of the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth is a scene into which all of us contemporary readers are invited. We are inspired by the faith and courage of these biblical women, and reminded that we, like them, are blessed. Because, like them, we participate in their mission of conveying the life and love of Christ to the world.
Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002).
B.E. Reid, Choosing the Better Part? Women in the Gospel of Luke (Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1996).
Alyce M. McKenzie is the George W. and Nell Ayers Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.