31 May 2017Luke 1:39-49
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” (v. 45)
Psalm: Psalm 113
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Protestant churches do not venerate Mary after the Roman Catholic and Orthodox practice, and therefore perhaps lack feminine iconography for God, which has important truths to convey.
This passage offers a poignant image of the two first-time pregnant mothers meeting - one past childbearing age and the other barely reaching it, but both willing to put their bodies at the service of God. Within Mary's body the divine became united with the mortal - she offered her womb as a space in which transformation occurred (Luke 1:38), and she herself was transformed (verse 49) by making herself available in this way. Mary is an archetype of the space all women offer for transformation when they carry and bear children, but she also embodies the call to all believers, whether they have borne their own children or not, to make space for transformation and the bringing forth of new life in a multitude of ways.
This was not only a personal transformation, but a cosmic one; history itself was transformed in her womb. It is a pity that today's set passage ends half way through Mary's song, known as the Magnificat, because she went on to sing of how this union of human and divine will transform the whole social order, lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry with good things (Luke 1:52-53). The willingness of one little girl to say yes to God transformed the whole world for all time.
Mary carried God in her body and knew what it was to hold a life within her that was not herself and yet an intimate part of her. She points all humans towards the truth of God dwelling within us. Elizabeth, too, shows us that the body is an authentic source of spiritual knowing: "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb" (v. 41), and she trusted the bodily response to the presence of God, which gave her access to inspiration by the Holy Spirit long before Pentecost!
- Has your body ever been a source of spiritual knowing? What practices can help you to tune into your body so that you can become aware of carrying God within it?
- How might you become a space in which transformation can occur?