“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:42-45)
We say these famous words spoken by Elizabeth so often that they may have become commonplace. But let’s take a minute to imagine this scene for a moment. Two women meet – one young and pregnant, one old and pregnant. Both are in a difficult situation with many questions swirling around in their minds. What can their unique encounter teach us?
First, God chooses to encourage Mary through another woman. Mary goes to Elizabeth in order to help her, but surely Mary also needs the comfort and encouragement of her cousin. We all need one another. We are not meant to navigate this vocation alone, and God wants us to be a source of strength to one another. Although Mary was sinless, we should not think that she was sufficient unto herself as she walked through life’s challenges. To hear the words of Elizabeth confirming the words of the angel Gabriel must have been a great comfort to Mary.
Second, God chooses to speak through an experience that is uniquely feminine. The Lord could have chosen any number of ways to encourage Mary and reinforce the message of the angel, but he chose a dear friend and two unborn babies. The sacredness of life is profoundly revealed when John the Baptist leaps for joy in the presence of the Lord, and yet the reality that these two babies (and the men they would become) would not exist without the wombs that carry and nurture them is equally profound. Our vocation is so sacred that Christ himself chose to participate in it with us.
Mary had given her “Fiat,” her “let it be done,” despite the unimaginable situation she found herself in. Although she knew that being an unwed mother and betrothed to a man was a most difficult circumstance, she trusted that God would walk with her and reveal the path she should follow one day at a time. What is your Fiat? What has the Lord asked of you that perhaps feels impossible? Take heart and be greatly encouraged that this vocation is sacred. Mary goes before you and Christ is always with her. We are about his work and his work is always good. When we feel at the end of our strength and our wisdom, then we can begin to rely on the strength and wisdom of God himself. “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ … for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9-10). And the comfort and encouragement of another woman is always available to us as we reach out to our mother Mary in prayer.
PRAYER: My dear Savior, you have blessed the vocation of motherhood forever by being born of a woman. Thank you for my motherhood and that you have shared your own mother with me. Help me to truly embrace all that you are asking of me, and help me to echo Mary’s Fiat so that your perfect will can be fulfilled in my life and the life of my family. Amen.