You know, I don't really choose what I am going to post; rather, the posts choose me. I find myself thinking of the same thing over and over and it doesn't go away until I write about it. This is especially true of this topic, which has been much on my mind for several weeks.
Continuing on our tour of rosary mysteries, today's stop is Mary's visit to her pregnant cousin Elizabeth. I am supposing that most of you are well familiar with this story, but I am going to summarize it anyway, as I have at least a few Jewish readers, one of whom told me he had learned some things about the New Testament from reading my blog. Plus, it never hurts to review, right?
When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah, he mentioned that her cousin Elizabeth was also expecting a child. Elizabeth was by all accounts too old to bear a child and had long been considered barren, so this must have been quite a surprise to Mary. However, given what she had already heard about her own conception, it was probably not as shocking as it might have been.
I'm quite sure that if I had been in Mary's place I would have barely heard the footnote about Elizabeth, so stunned would I have been by my own personal news. (Of course, this helps explain why God chose Mary and not me, but I digress...)
The very next thing we know, Mary is making haste for the hill country to visit Elizabeth. She did not pause to think of how she was going to navigate her own situation, how she was going to explain this to her parents, or what she was going to tell her fiance. Nor did she run around telling everyone the incredible news that she was the chosen one (again, I'm pretty sure I would have told at least one good friend or two). Instead, she raced straight to her cousin, to help her in her third trimester of pregnancy. Never mind that Mary was in her own first trimester with the Savior of the world and could have easily justified resting and protecting the life within her. Never mind that she was quite likely nauseous and fatigued herself. Mary did not waste a moment thinking of herself. She went to serve Elizabeth without question, and there she stayed for several months.
When Mary first arrived to attend to Elizabeth, her cousin was filled with Holy Spirit and said, "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." Of course, we find out later that the child Elizabeth is carrying, the one who leaped for joy at Mary's very presence, is John the Baptist, who prepares the way for Jesus.
You may be wondering, by this time, why this has been so much on my mind, why this is the mystery that I keep getting stuck on of late. Naturally, I am going to tell you.
I, who have always been one to stay fairly wrapped up in my own affairs and duties, and the needs of my immediate family, have been taught a great lesson by all of you, my friends and family. I have learned, through this journey, what true charity is and how it is practiced. I have become Elizabeth and all of you are Mary.
I am standing at the door of my hill country home, stunned that you should come to me with meals, cards, gifts and so very many prayers. In the threshold, I stare in disbelief at the pure generosity of you all, who give without thought to your own personal situations and concerns, just as Mary did.
Among those of you who have unceasingly cared for me and my family since this adventure began, not a one is without personal difficulties. In fact, the more I learn about what some of you are struggling with as you stir a pot filled with dinner for my family or write an encouraging note to me, the more amazed I am at your ability to put yourselves aside to minister to another.
Some of you have husbands who are, or are yourselves, unemployed. Some, though employed, are struggling with family businesses in this economic downturn or balancing a financial house of cards. One of you has been displaced completely from your home. Another is facing foreclosure. Still others are dealing with the illness of their parents, and some with their own illnesses. Several are experiencing trouble in their marriages or issues of infertility. I am particularly touched by those of you who are battling cancer yourselves and have taken time to prepare a meal or call to see how I am doing. As I am beginning to get my bearings now, I aspire to imitate you. And please know, the intentions of you all are in my daily prayers.
I naively once thought that those who helped others extensively as I am now being helped had lots of time on their hands or didn't have complications in their own lives. I understand now that the most generous of you are often the most battle weary. I must not wait for the elusive time when all my children are grown and my personal affairs are ordered to be charitable. Rather, it is something I must incorporate into every day.
As Mary came to Elizabeth despite her incredible burden/gift, so do you come to me. And as John the Baptist leaped for joy inside Elizabeth upon her arrival, so do I and my family when we hear the sound of your greeting.
Thank you. I am truly humbled.