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Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth’


Luke 1-2: Behold the Christ

Antonio Baletsra:

The Nativity – detail

Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24, 2016

In this final week of Advent, let us decide to make our hopes tangible, our dreams a prayer for our reality, our faith unwavering and our love secure. Let us cleave to the Creator, follow the Redeemer and rest in the Spirit. This week let us give one another the gift of preparing for the very real promise of eternity.

The high priest Zechariah learns patience so that he might behold Emmanuel, God Among Us. While he awaits the birth of his only child who will become the announcer and baptizer of the Christ, he waits in patient hope until the day his speech returns.

And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” (Luke 1:20)

The girl Mary learns that God can do the impossible when the angel Gabriel visits her with the astounding news that she will bring the Light of the World to waiting humanity.

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. (Luke 1:31)

Mary learns the astounding news that her elderly cousin Elizabeth has conceived life. An affirmation that with God, all things are possible.

And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. (Luke 1:36)

Mary learns that her confidence in God is rewarded as she responds with her, “Yes,” to God’s invitation to enter into union with all of creation in a most special way.

And Mary said, “Behold, the bond slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38)

Elizabeth learns that her young cousin Mary is the new ark of the new Word. These kinswomen greet one another just as each of us might if we understand God’s message of hope.

For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. (Luke 1:44)

The marginalized shepherds learn the redeeming news that the Messiah has come to live among them as a vulnerable child.

But the angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; (Luke 2:10)

The wise man Simeon learns that his outrageous hope has been rewarded. He has met the Savior of the World, just as God has promised.

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— (Luke 2:34)

The woman Mary learns that this child she must share with world for the redemption of all is fully human and fully divine.

When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” (Luke 2:48)

Each of us is given the opportunity on this Good Night to become apostles of Christ. Each of us might carry Christ within and share him with the world. Each of us truly human and truly divine as our brother Jesus tells us. Each of us is given the gift of this Nochebuena, this wonderful Good Night. Let us rejoice with the shepherds. Let us give our confident “yes” to God’s plan. And let us behold the marvelous gift we hold in our hands.

In the Hispanic culture Christmas Eve bears the title of Nochebuena. Read more about this custom at: http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/spain.shtml

These verses are taken from the NASB translation of Luke. Other versions open this story so that our ears might hear, our eyes might see, and our hearts might open wide to welcome Christ into our lives in a very real, very human, very divine way.

adoratio

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rembrandt: St. Anna the Prophetess

Rembrandt: St. Anna the Prophetess

Luke 2:36-38

Anna

She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

“A fourth and final [Lucan] theme is expressed in Simeon’s word to Mary (apparently this occurs in the outer court where women were allowed).  Jesus will bring truth and light and will effect decision and judgmentHowever, in so doing he will face opposition and death.  When Jesus comes to Jerusalem as an adult, the journey will be his ‘exodus’ (NRSV: ‘departure,’ 9:31).

“Simeon’s words are confirmed by Anna, a devout woman of advanced age . . . The two aged saints are Israel in miniature, poised in anticipation of the new.  God is leading Israel to the Messiah, but the Messiah will weep over this city because it did not know the time of the messianic visitation (19:41-44)”. (Mays 932)

Scholars describe Anna as having insight that most of us lack and she appears in this story to affirm the Messiah’s identity.  She is likely 105 years old, lives in or near the Temple, and dedicates her days and nights to a life of service to and in God; but she is no doddering ancient.  Robin Gallaher Branch describes her saying that “her lifestyle evidently invigorates her, for she is mobile, articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish”. (Branch)

Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, Anna and Simeon, servants, disciples, prophets . . . all announcing that openness and peace and joy have come to a people who yearn to be free, that light and courage and hope have come to a people who wait in darkness, that healing and consolation and union have come to a people who remain faithful despite their fear.  As we approach the third Sunday of Advent, a time when we announce to the world with joy that the Messiah is come, let us remember that we are Advent people.  And let us, like Anna, be articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish as we declare to all the world that the one who saves is indeed come to live among us.

For insight into the importance of Anna the Prophetess, one of the Bible’s most unusual women, by Robin Gallaher Branch, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible/

Branch, Robin Gallaher. “Anna in the Bible.” Bible History Daily. Biblical Archeology Society, 19 Apr 2013. Web. 15 Dec 2013. .

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Zechariah, John, Elizabeth and Mary

Zechariah, John, Elizabeth and Mary

Luke 1:67-79

Benedictus

In the tradition of The Liturgy of the Hours this Canticle of Zechariah is sung as part of Lauds, or Morning Prayer or Prime, and although the verses are intoned by Zechariah on the birth of his son John the Baptist, they prophesy the coming of Jesus the Messiah, the Light of the World. Commentary tells us that their origin may have been an early Jewish Christian hymn that Luke adapted for his story. (Senior cf. 100) Today we examine these verses to see how we might bring full voice to our thanksgiving that God is not a remote and distant deity who merely observes the events that surround our lives, but a merciful and loving parent who chooses to live and move among us.

Zechariah begins by praising God for releasing us from all that binds and for delivering us from our enemies the prophets have promised.  He reminds us of the covenant we have with God and all that it promises, and then he urges his child, John, to fulfill his role as herald of the Word.  Describing the coming Messiah as the dawn from on high, Zechariah recalls for us the purpose of this light for the world: to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. 

In our world of immediate satisfaction and quick fulfillment, it is difficult to find our place in God’s plan that unfolds through the millennia to unite billions of souls, and it is both fitting and helpful that we rise each morning to intone these words of Zechariah as part of our morning prayer.  When we pray the Benedictus we unite ourselves with all the faithful who greet each day with these same words of thanksgiving, remembrance and promise.  So let us give thanks.  Let us remember God’s promises.  And let us walk with our God in the way of peace.

When we look at the entire first Chapter of Luke we discover how God prepares the faithful for the coming of Emmanuel, the incarnation of God’s Word Among Us, Jesus the Christ.  We also understand more fully how carefully God’s heart and hand entwine with each precious life.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.100. Print.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

mary-and-elizabeth[1]Luke 1

The Encounter

In the first chapter of Luke we witness a series of encounters: the immaculate as she encounters the one who is in the presence of God, two cousins carrying new life, two cousins as yet unborn, and the quiet drama of God’s word coming to live among God’s people.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might see them so.

We plan to meet friends for lunch.  We arrange our lives to gather for an important occasion.  We enter dates on calendars and electronic schedulers.  We commit to union with others.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We are surprised when we meet a friend from days lived long past.  We chance upon a relative we have not seen since a funeral years ago.  We find ourselves waiting in queue with a former colleague we have not thought of in the years since we shared a workplace.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We bump into strangers in our daily interactions.  We exchange currency and salutations with people we barely perceive.  We pump gas and load purchases next to people we may never see again.  We rent vacation apartments and share cups and plates with hundreds whom we will never meet. We travel in airplanes, trains, buses and taxis and brush against thousands or even millions.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We might imagine a life in which we anticipate joy as we meet new people and encounter new ways of thinking.  We might picture a life in which conflicts are expressed openly with respect rather than obliquely with silent aggression.  We might read Luke 1 and see a girl who steps into danger, fully knowing and fully accepting the challenge that lies before her . . . saying with full and open heart, My soul magnifies the Lord.

All encounters are holy.  Would that we might see them so.

Prophet and Redeemer meet before the world is aware of their existence.

Two women clasp one another as they kiss cheeks.

A harbinger arrives, announcing good news that we often choose to disbelieve.

God comes to earth to walk among his people.

Trust in God.  Hope with God.  Love for God.

Believing that the impossible might be made possible.

All of these encounters are revealed to us today.

All of these options stand before the people we read about today.

All of these possibilities lie beneath the encounters presented to us today.

Let us imagine a life in which each time we look up, we greet the other with warm trust, exuberant hope, and authentic love.  Let us picture a world in which we greet and listen to one another with genuine respect.  Let us see ourselves stepping forward honestly with hand extended in faithful friendship.  Let us imagine the possibilities that lie beneath our encounters, and let us pray . . .

All encounters are holy.  Would that we might believe them so.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 22, 2009.

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