Saturday, December 4
Elizabeth has lived in physical and marital silence and seclusion for long months. One day, perhaps resting uncomfortably on a shaded wooded bench near the door, she spies a small group of women raising dust on the village path. (It’s unlikely that Mary traveled alone on the three-day dangerous journey from Nazareth.) Elizabeth hears a voice calling out to her, perhaps using the traditional “Peace to you,” and recognizes the greeting of her young relative.
Before any “woman talk,” God breaks in with physical force. As Elizabeth hears Mary’s voice, Elizabeth clutches her protruding belly as the child within her leaps. This is no gentle nudge of a growing in utero baby but a punch that takes Elizabeth’s breath away. Luke later uses the same word when he quotes Jesus describing Kingdom joy: Rejoice in that day and leap for joy…Before exiting the womb, this child who will be named John, miraculously recognizes and reacts to the still growing seed he will one day herald as the Lamb of God.
We’ll return to what happens to Elizabeth but stop now to imagine. As the cousins John and Jesus grow, attending family reunions, perhaps traveling together to ritual observances in Jerusalem, see the boys moving off to the side of their families: “Did your mother ever tell you about…? Do you ever wonder…?” Imagining such scenes takes nothing away from the holiness, the miraculous, the divine. One theologian writes, “Imagination is not the opposite of reality or the enemy of truth… Imagination is the partner of the intellect.”
Take time to imagine the scene. What do you see as the women meet? What are their facial expressions? What do they talk about? If you had been there, what might have been your reaction? Would you have believed what was happening?
This is what miracles look like. Usually in the midst of the ordinary. Look for one this Advent.