Saturday, May 31, 2008

Daily Office Reflection: The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

MP: Psalm 72; Samuel 1:1-20; Hebrews 3:1-6
EP: Psalms 146, 147; Zechariah 2:10-13; John 3:25-30

Today we celebrate the pregnant Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth, who is also pregnant, carrying who will become John the Baptist. Mary is recognized for who she is and whom she is carrying not only by Elizabeth but also by John, her unborn son, who dances for joy in her womb. Think about the fright Mary had been through, and how that warm welcome by her kin must have made her own heart sing for joy. This encounter is remembered in Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer by the inclusion in both services of the optional use of the Magnificat, which is Mary's song of praise and joy after Elizabeth's greeting.

We are given a wonderful gift in our MP lectionary with the inclusion of the story of the birth of Samuel to Hannah and Elkanah. A pencil sketch of this story: Elkanah had two wives, one barren (Hannah) and the other able to have children (Peninnah). Hannah was tortured by Peninnah because of her inability to have children, and although her husband loved her nonetheless, she still wanted a child. She goes to the synagogue to pray, meets the priest Eli, who first accuses her of being drunk and then supports her in her prayer. Hannah leaves and shortly thereafter conceives and Samuel is born.

After Hannah leaves the synagogue and goes home, before she becomes pregnant, we are told that her countenance was sad no longer. After prayer and a chat with a temple priest, she accepted her position in life and was then granted that for which she prayed. Isn't that a beautiful account? We see some of that acceptance and change in countenance in the story of Mary and Elizabeth. An acceptance of who and what we are, brings insight into the gifts we have already been given as well as an appreciation of those gifts yet to come, when they do arrive.

Let our countenance be sad no longer, and a song of joy and praise be given for those gifts we have all around us and those yet to come.

Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

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