Luke 1:39-56 | Assumption of the Blessed Mother, Year B
Ordinarily Hard at Work
Life often seems to be ordinary, but beneath the surface, God is hard at work. The change that’s coming is already there, but we just don’t know it. Like pregnancy. I didn’t know I was pregnant until several weeks into something that would change my life. Then there was a flurry of excitement, and then ordinary life resumed, at least until the nausea set in. I wonder if Mary felt the same?
The beginning of Mary’s pregnancy, the angel’s visit and Mary’s eternal yes, was ripe with surprise. But though she was pregnant, Mary wasn’t yet showing, perhaps wasn’t yet nauseous, and life was, at least on the surface, ordinary again. I wonder if she ever thought that maybe the angel’s visit had been a figment of her imagination?
So, perhaps Mary’s visit to Elizabeth might have had multiple purposes. In part, Mary might have gone for reassurance that that many earth-shattering things were going on, even if they weren’t obvious yet. If so, her reception with John’s leap in Elizabeth’s womb and Elizabeth’s greeting, “How does it happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (vs. 41-2), must have been just the ticket. She hadn’t hallucinated the angel’s visit. Mary really was pregnant and the baby really was the Son of God. Her life was firmly on a different path.
Even as a fetus in Elizabeth’s womb, John recognized Jesus, a fetus in Mary’s womb, as the Messiah. But later, when Jesus was a man doing all the things a Messiah might, John struggled to see this as Jesus’s identity. As a helpless infant, Jesus was fully known, but as an adult, He was a mystery. So John asked Jesus for help. John needed reassurance, perhaps just as Mary had when she visited his mother. I think this notion is comforting. We all, including those in Isaiah’s prophecies, need reassurance in our faith from time to time. God has no problem with us asking for it.
When do we need the most reassurance: in the season of ordinariness, wondering what’s coming? Or in the season of craziness, wondering if it will ever settle down?
Did Mary need the most assurance when Jesus was a little boy, doing typical little boy things? Was she wondering what His destiny was and was she doing what she could to help Him live up to it? Or did she need to most assurance when He was preaching and performing miracles and wasn’t remotely the Messiah she and the Jews had envisioned? When He hung on the cross, did she wonder where she had gone wrong?
During all of it, Mary prayed. She had thrown her lot in with God, and even when she had questions, she stayed in relationship with Him, went to Him for reassurance, for help, for succor. God wants nothing more than for us to do the same. He is always hard at work, and He wants to share His work with us. We just have to ask.