(For this week’s homily, I’ve invited my good friend and resigned priest, John Capillo to share his thoughts. In his formal priestly days John worked in the archdiocese of Brooklyn in New York, and in El Salvador. A prophet and father of four grown children, John has spent his informal priestly days in public service — most notably working for the Kentucky Environmental Foundation. He is a wonderful teacher, and has often visited my classes and those of my bride, Peggy. I know you will love his words below.)
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
Recall the previous scene in Luke. Who is this Mary who sets off? What is her state of mind?
She has been greeted by the angel Gabriel
who tells her that she is favored,
and that the LORD is with her.
She is troubled.
Let’s let her talk.
“What does it mean that the LORD is with me?
I do not understand the greeting,
What do you mean I am favored?”
And the angel’s lines:
“Don’t be afraid,
you are not alone,
you are loved.
And I want to tell you something,
Remember. You are loved.”
And then the bomb shell,
blowing up all plans and status and expectations:
“You are to conceive and give birth to a son who will be great,
the Son of the Most High
A king like David,
who will reign forever.”
“Whoa. Back up a bit. Let me think this through.
You are saying that I am favored and I am going to become pregnant?
But I am only betrothed to Joseph and if I am judged to be pregnant out of wedlock I can be stoned.
Am I hearing you correctly?
And I am to have a son who will be a king like David, complete with sword and shield, going off to war?
And he will reign over the House of Judah which is now reigned over by the Romans, and contested by the Zealots?
And who did you say you were, a messenger from God?
Maybe I am nuts, seeing visions, hearing voices.”
And in an understatement that lives with lack of understanding, she says,
“How can this be?
You gotta be kidding?
Do you know who you are talking to?
I am a young girl who does not even have a husband, and in this world that is no small potatoes.”
But the story goes on.
The angel says,
“Oh, I did not tell you how this is going to work, how you are going to explain this to
to your mother who raised you to be a good girl
to your father, who has this betrothal deal with Joseph,
to Joseph, who is expecting a wife who is a virgin,
to the priests who will be ready to stone you,
to the governor, who will see your son as a pretender to the throne,
and to the Empire, that now rules and with an iron fist.
Just tell them that the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and the power of the MOST high will over shadowed you, and your son will be the Son of GOD.’
And Mary’s response?
‘Wow! You are not kidding around. This is the whole enchilada. And you think that I can pull this off.
And the only explanation that I get is that the Holy Spirit will come upon me and the power of the most high will overshadow me.
And you are waiting for an answer?
I hope my mother understands that I made this decision because I had a vision and heard voices
I will hope my father is not ripping mad.
I hope that Joseph will still have me,
God knows what I will do about the governor and the Empire
and I will deal with this kingship thing and swords and overthrowing when the time comes.
Are you sure that you understand that you are dealing with a little poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks of a runt of a city in no-where’s-ville. I am not trying to give you any lip about this, but just to let you know.
But if you are for real, I am game. I suppose you will get back to me about the details.
Oh and you say Elizabeth is pregnant, old barren Elizabeth. And that because nothing is impossible with God,
I gotta get up there and talk to her about all this.”
And so we start today’s episode.
Mary goes right away to Elizabeth’s. It is a woman thing.
And Elizabeth is all excited,
filled with the Holy Spirit.
And her baby is jumping up and down,
in her womb.
And Elizabeth says,
full of anima,
speaking like one possessed,
“Blessed are you who believed,
you who took the promptings as real,
who trusted her intuition,
who trusted her muse, her logos, her inner voice.
What a joy it is to know that you are willing to take what you heard out for a spin;
willing to step off the edge
to go with the flow
to glide in the air
to dance in the back room,
to put aside the fearfulness that her mother has,
to defy the anger that her father has ,
to test the love that Joseph has,
to stand up to the priests, the governor, the Empire
all because you saw a vision and heard voices.
You are one special person, and one great friend.
Give me a hug, squirt.”
That’s the miracle. That’s the call. We are up to it, aren’t we?