The story we are meant to hear
Elizabeth and Mary are both carrying their first children, Mary has gone to see Elizabeth so they can support each other; what an exciting time for both! These are the times in our lives that we feel very connected to our community, when things are going well, and we feel we can contribute and support each other. Everything comes easily, especially loving one another.
But both Mary and Elizabeth had likely gone through very difficult times of judgement in their communities recently; Elizabeth for being baren for so long and Mary for being with child out of wedlock. I know this isn’t the usual story we think about when this passage is read, however, considering that Mary and Elizabeth were females during the 1st century in the Mediterranean, this is exactly what it would have meant for them. It would have been a very difficult time for Mary especially, who would have pushed to the margins of society. It’s times like this when it feels as if the world will come crashing down; the times we feel isolated and alone, maybe even shunned, that we need each other. It is during those times that it so important to have people to be in solidarity with. Mary would have felt lost and abandoned. This is the real reason that Mary went to see Elizabeth, this is the story we are meant to hear.
Now, during Advent as we are waiting for Jesus to come and redeem us, I believe this is the message we are called to reflect on. Where are the lost and abandoned in our community; it’s likely we don’t have to look very far. Yet we must look, we just can’t do life alone. It’s too difficult; and even though we may be following the path that has been prepared for us, doesn’t mean that we won’t need help along the way. We are called to be there for each other, in community; to support one another, to care for all, to love each other when that doesn’t seem possible. Community is the only place we can find the help we may need, as well as the help we are meant to give. We will find it in the people that have gone through something similar, in the people that have gone through something totally different, in the people that haven’t struggled much at all, and in the people that need us. It takes all of us together, in all our uniqueness. This is where we will become everything God wants us to be, in the messiness of life, on the margins; where we can share everything we have and receive everything that we need.
By Serena Shaw
Vocation Team – Oblate Associate