November 27, 2020
Advent is the season of waiting. And, yes, at the deepest level of my being, I wait for a new celebration of Jesus’s birth in Nazareth so many years ago and for an ever-deepening consciousness of the presence of the Cosmic Christ in our hearts and in our universe (John1:1-8). But at the immediate level, what I’m waiting for is the end of COVID-19 and of social distancing! It is in that context that the story of Mary’s encounter with Elizabeth and her Magnificat most engages me today, with renewed poignancy.
In extraordinary circumstances, a young Galilean woman finds herself pregnant and rushes off to the Judean hill country to visit her cousin, who the angel has told her is also pregnant. We can only guess at Mary’s motivation. Does she want to help her much-older cousin? Is she seeking some psychic and physical space to absorb the angel’s message and to sort out what to do about Joseph? Is she escaping the rumor mongering of her small village? Whatever our speculation, we do know that she finds affection, joy and contemplative insight in Elizabeth’s greeting: “Blessed are you among women …” Artists through the centuries have captured the exuberance and the tenderness of the embrace between Mary and Elizabeth.
I include some of those images here for your contemplation.