SERMON OF THE WEEK
November 27, 2011
Next Sunday marks Mary's visit to Elizabeth. Gospel reading is from Luke 1:39-56.
Gospel Reading: (Luke 1:39-56 Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah�s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary�s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!
Mary�s Song: 46 And Mary said: My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me�
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Mary had just been visited earlier by the angel Gabriel and was told that she would bear a son, Jesus, who will be "great and called the son of the most high and heir to the ancient throne of David." Mary was told that the Holy Spirit will conceive in her the child Jesus. And Mary replied, "I am the handmaiden of the Lord. May it be to me as you have said."
Mary was first confused. The only person she knew who would understand her was Elizabeth. The angel had told Mary that her relative Elizabeth is going to have a child in her old age and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.
So, Mary prepared for a trip to see Elizabeth. She needed guidance for this unique experience. Mary seeks out Zachariah's home and was received by her cousin Elizabeth. It is likely that Mary had visited there before. Elizabeth, now six months pregnant, comes to the door and greets Mary. Elizabeth hadn't expected her, but now Mary greets her.
The greetings Mary brings to Elizabeth had an effect so powerful that Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greetings, the baby in Elizabeth's womb leaped and responded to the presence of the Messiah inside of Mary. Elizabeth said, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy lamb, Jesus."
Mary breaks out a Holy Spirit inspired response. She praised the Lord for the awesome blessing on her. She sang, "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoice in God my Savior, for he as been mindful of the humble state of this servant. From now on, all generations will call me blessed, for the might one has done great things for me. Holy is his name." (1:46-49)
Mary contrasts her "humble state" as a servant with God's greatness. She refers to him as the mighty one. And she concludes by affirming God's greatness.
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months, then returned home.
Mary was an encouragement to Elizabeth. God had planned it for Mary's benefit. She would have been otherwise subjected to cruel slander and shame back home. She would have been misunderstood and rejected. Here at Elizabeth's home, she was loved and accepted.
Elizabeth had asked, "Why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" God must have provided Elizabeth to Mary as a spiritual guardian who would nurture and protect her. Elizabeth was Mary's friend and confidant. Mary was a blessed woman because the Lord was with her. God gave Elizabeth to Mary for a purpose.
All of us will be blessed if we let God dwell in us. God may have plans for this type roles for us. God must have already chosen someone who can help guide us in our life. Let's hope and pray that God will enable us to find the Elizabeth who can help in our life's journey. We need God's guidance in finding that person. Let's seek God's help in our pursuit.
Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil