And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.”
By Lois Farley Shuford, Parishioner
The scriptures we will hear throughout this last week of Advent are filled with the voices of women: Hannah, Elizabeth, and of course, Mary. Hannah and Elizabeth ask the seemingly impossible of God: a child in their old age and barrenness. Mary, a young woman alone in a room – I imagine her weaving or making bread – welcomes an angel who tells her an astonishing thing, that she will have a child who will be the Messiah. She doesn’t brush this off as an impossible statement. Instead, she wonders. She asks, how can this be when I have had no relations with a man? She’d like to know the details, but she is open to the mystery of it; she knows and believes that God works in mysterious ways. Now this great mystery has come face to face with her, a young woman that no one sees as significant in the world, a young woman who is simply, “his lowly servant.”
Hannah and Elizabeth are open, too, accepting the mystery of God that leads them to pray for the impossible. God needs to shake up the men in these stories a bit, however. Both King Ahaz and Zechariah need a sign to overcome their own sense about what is possible. Joseph only needs a dream.
These scriptures lead us deeper into Advent, and they are especially meaningful to me. Growing up in a Protestant family, I was drawn to the Catholic Church by its acceptance and embrace of mystery: the idea that the fullness of God is unknowable and yet incarnate – God with us. During these days of Advent, let us be awake and aware. Let us make time to quiet ourselves so we can sense the immensity of God in the smallness of an infant. May we be open as Mary and rejoice.
Previous: Week 2
Next: Week 4
Lois Farley Shuford is celebrating 27 years as both a parishioner and an active member of the music ministry. She is a published author and a mother of four.