“In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” (Luke 1:39 – 40)
I want to believe, and find it easy to believe that Mary visited Elizabeth often. Perhaps as Mary pondered the coming months and the changes that her body would undergo, she may have wanted some female comfort and advise. Hearing that Elizabeth was with child (and may-hap that it was considered a miraculous pregnancy), and as the wife of a priest might have some insight into the miracle of Mary’s own pregnancy. Is it not wondrous that the Divine might have arranged that Mary and Elizabeth be a support to each other? Just as much a plan as John the Baptist foretelling Jesus’ ministry.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “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. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” (Verses 41 – 45)
Were these the exact or even-close-to words that Elizabeth spoke? Sounds more formal than I would have imagined.
“And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Verses 46 – 55)
It also sounds a psalm-like. Maybe the writer of the gospel of Luke took what would have been more informal and colloquial exchanges, and re-wrote them to honor the occasion and the conception of John and Jesus.
“And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home. Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.” (Verses 56 – 57)
Mary and Elizabeth are not the ones who we look to on this day of celebration. Hannah too has realized the joyful event that she is also with child after waiting so long. She also has her own poetic pronouncement to make.
“Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory. “There is no Holy One like the LORD, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. The LORD! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.” (1 Samuel 2:1-10)
Now, this is the interesting thing. And I did not realize it until I read the Psalm passage assigned to this day. While some of what Mary and Elizabeth say sounds psalm like, what Hannah says is also found in the psalm – Psalm 113 to be exact. Verses 7 & 8 say, “ He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.” Did these women really say this? Or have the biblical writers set their words in these women’s mouths? Do not think, beloved reader, that this jostles me. I already know that the gospel writers phrased what Jesus said to their own purposes. There is not a jot of difference between the two practices. And who says, anyway, that these esteemed women might not have quoted scripture – although Hannah seems to have said her bit BEFORE the psalmist may have been writing! Ah well! I am proof enough that females can set down worshipful words that have lasting impact! In fact, I think I am going to enjoy meditating on this for a good while to come – that the women of the bible contribute not only to moving the plans of the Divine forward but that they contribute to biblical literature as well!
May you, beloved reader, contribute to the plans and ministry of the Divine in your days. And may your words bring glory to the Lord God! Selah!