The courage of Mary and Elizabeth


By Sr. Judy Herold,

Lk 1:39-45
As we enter this fourth week of Advent, we are awed at the mystery of God’s presence in our lives. Our God has entered human history, my history, my life! We are awed by the joy that is already ours, yet waiting for the gift to come. We are awed by our story of faith and the courageous women and men who share the journey with us and are beacons on the way.

“Mary set out, proceeding in haste into the hill country to a town of Judah, where she entered Zachariah’s house and greeted Eliz­abeth.” — Lk 1:39-40

Sr. Herold
Sr. Herold

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Mary and Elizabeth take our breath away with their courage in the face of impossibility. One, a young, pregnant woman carrying the seed of our redemption and the other, a woman in her wisdom years, pregnant with the one who prepares the way for the Messiah. Mary sets out to visit her cousin Elizabeth after her visitation by an angel. With Mary’s “yes” she proclaimed that all things are possible with God. And, with her visit to Elizabeth, she proclaimed her discipleship by carrying the Word to her cousin.


“The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby leapt in my womb for joy. Blest is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.” — Lk 1:44-45

These are two women accepting impossibility by trusting God. The result — JOY! Elizabeth says, “The baby leapt in my womb for joy! Joy! The only response to meeting Jesus is joy. There is nothing impossible in that! However, in our world today the impossible walks next to us, chasing us down the avenues of our lives. A diagnosis of cancer, a world torn by violence, news that tells of job loss, poverty, or confinement to a hospital bed, a family argument, an unforgiving friend or family member — all seem to be impossible situations. Mary was no stranger to the impossible, yet she said yes and God did the rest!

Perhaps today’s Gospel is asking us to make an unqualified “yes.” Yes to our Creator, yes to Jesus. Yes to the Holy Spirit. Yes to all that life brings today and in the coming year. We believe that with our God all things are possible. With Mary, we go in haste, carrying Jesus to those in need. We follow her example this Advent/Christmas time and beyond to trust and dare that God can do for us what we can’t do for ourselves because our God is with us. Emmanuel! God is truly with us.

(Sr. Judy Herold is pastoral associate for St. Anthony Parish in Davenport.)

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