In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“What are you doing here?”
This question continues to surface in my prayer this year: first, this October, on an Ignatian pilgrimage in Spain, and second, this Advent, as I’ve prayed with this very passage.
On his way from Loyola to Montserrat, St. Ignatius spent one night at a lesser-known shrine commemorating a young shepherd who encountered a statue of Mary among the bushes. The place is named Arantzazu, which means, “You, among the thorns!”
As I pray with Elizabeth, I imagine the thorns of her life, especially the inability to bear a child for which she longs. And, somehow, even when it seems she is too old, it is too late, God breaks in.
Mary arrives. She, too, is pregnant. They must have looked at other in wonder. Asking, “Is it true?” “You, too?” God breaks in again.
Where is God breaking in among the thorns of my own life?
—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division and serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for God has looked with favor upon God’s servant,
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is God’s name.
—paraphrased from Luke 1:46-49
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