“The angel said to her ‘Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age,’ . . . and Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste” – Luke 1: 37, 39
The alternative readings for today’s feast link the two scenes we know as the Annunciation and the Visitation. Having just heard the unfathomable and disturbing news of her own pregnancy, Mary also learns of Elizabeth’s unlikely pregnancy and quickly travels to be with her. The passage gives no hint of what motivated a young, newly-pregnant girl to undertake this trip at a time when such travel was both difficult and dangerous.
Like each of us, Mary’s motives were probably mixed – a desire to help with an unexpected late-life pregnancy; an impulse to “get out of town” before her own unexplainable pregnancy became obvious; a hope that her cousin’s mysterious situation could somehow help her understand more of her own. The rendition of their initial encounter in Luke’s Gospel reflects the faithful response of each of them, including Mary’s Magnificat. But I somehow wonder what the dialog in the following days might have been like, as they each struggled to “make sense” out of what was happening to them.
But Scripture passages are not historical accounts nor usually clear story lines. So, in my own “prayer of imagination” as if overhearing their conversations, I have to believe that they shared bewilderment and anxiety as much as a faithful willingness to embrace the unknown. And that is what faithful friends have done with me and for me throughout my life – not providing answers or making sense of life’s messiness and unknowns, but standing and staying with me so I can believe that I am not alone and that somehow “all will be well” in ways still unclear.
Mary, please help me to find the trust to share my insecurities and anxieties with others and to be grateful for their companionship on my journey of faith.
Brother Arthur Caliman, C.F.X.
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