Sunday, December 23, 2018

Women from the periphery

Today, on the last of the Sunndays of Advent, the Church turns our attention to the role of women in salvation history. Two women, Elizabeth and Mary, are the bookends.  Elizabeth is thought to be too old and barren. Mary is at the other end of the spectrum, on the cusp from child to woman. Both women are in some ways outcasts. 

In those days, when a couple did not get pregnant, all of the blame was placed on the woman. She was barren. She was the one who must have displeased God. She was someone to be avoided.  

Mary was the perfect age to be married off. The problem in her case is that the pregnancy precedes the wedding. And who will believe that God is the father. 

What unites these women is faith. 

The story tells us that

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country

She and Elizabeth are away from the gossiping crowds. One can imagine that hours these two women must have spent in prayer together. What must those three months together have been like, the bond they would have formed. From this encounter Mary is strengthen to return home and complete her mission. 

From this encounter two great prayers are born, the Hail Mary and the Magnificat. 

For those who want to claim that Christianity is patriarchal, where are then men in this story? Only Jesus and John are alluded to.  There had to have been other men around. None are named. Today is about the women.