Gospel of Luke 1:39-45
"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. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit cried out in a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, in the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord, would be fulfilled."
Let us enter into this beautiful passage and be with our Blessed Mother. Let us stay very close to her. We are going to enter this gospel in the manner of Lectio Divina.
You might be wondering why I chose this particular piece of art to depict "In Haste". The reason is, the origin of "haste" is important to consider. "Haste" (pace of movement and activity) can be propelled by many things, such as fear, interior pain, or frantic activity. In these we run from the chaos inside of our hearts and bury ourselves in other things. There are many more reasons too like over booked calendars and generous hearts never saying no.
Now, let us look at Mary and the possible origin of her haste. We see this young woman, completely still and receptive to God's will. She is neither running nor shrinking away in fear. She is listening and receiving. She is still in God. Her haste must have come from Great Joy! In receiving God, receiving God's Love, she was rejoicing - "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices..!" Mary had to go and give. Her haste came from an encounter and that encounter moved her profoundly into the fullness of her vocation and she was responding wholeheartedly. Sometimes by way of contrast we can learn more about a great mystery. As we look at this painting, we observe stillness, silence, an attentive and listening heart, an encounter and receptivity. Hold these images in your mind and heart, as we pray through this passage notice what happens, after this moment above.
Mary is now moving and "in haste", to be with her cousin, to listen now to another, her cousin Elizabeth, and to give her whatever she can through humble works of love and through her presence. Mary knew the importance of the ministry of presence. The "going to" someone, and the "being with" that someone are both very important aspects of her to ponder. The words of her greeting to her cousin, communicates "The Word" who is conceived in her womb and whom she carries in her being. One final note of great importance as we speak of contrasts, are the two questions and the two responses in the Gospel of Luke chapter 1. Let us look at Zechariah's questioning of the validity of the angel's words and Mary's inquiry into the plan how it is going to happen. Mary doesn't question the validity of the angel's words or if they are are worthy of trust, but rather, she wants to know the "how of it", because she knows and believes it will happen. In today's gospel Elizabeth rejoices in this faith of Mary!
The steps and examples of Lectio Divina are given for guidance. Follow where the Lord guides you and enter into dialogue with Him and let Him speak to you, even if the steps don't seem as clear cut as below.
1st step. Lectio. Let us prepare our hearts. Find a place where you can be alone. Then sit quietly and free your heart from all its burdens and cares, concerns, and whatever weighs it down, and rest in God. Praying- "Come Holy Spirit, Come Holy Spirit, Come Holy Spirit". Slowly read the gospel passage above, out loud if possible. Read it at least 2x's.
2nd step. Meditatio. Listen to the words you are reading out loud. Read slowly. What stays in your heart, either a word(s) , thought, image, or a "Truth". Ponder it with the Lord. Maybe it even troubles, puzzles, disturbs you, or maybe it draws an image to mind. Stay here and mull it over for awhile. Example: "Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste", she was on a mission! What did that "haste" look like? Was she talking or silent? What mission was she on that gave her "light feet" to move quickly? What happened before this moment, that propelled her into action? And why did she have to go in person? We don't hear at this point, if she was afraid, we only know she set out in haste and that haste speaks of love and joy and the desire to give. As perfect love casts out all fear, Mary truly must have lived in this deep peace and joy, as she held God's very Life in her, God who IS Love. The more we watch Mary, the more we see the peaceful and loving silence that envelops her, and the joy and life radiating from her face. She must have been totally unaware of how beautiful she was, because her heart, was so aware of "another" and that other was God. The beauty of the countenance of Mary draws me close into her "Yes" to God. She believed that what was spoken to her, would BE. She knew and was convicted, that God would be true to His word. Conviction brought joy into the heart of Mary and Joy gave Mary "fast feet".
3rd step. Oratio. Spend time in conversation, a heart to heart, remember this is a loving relationship. Sharing what is in your heart and waiting to hear what God will say to you in the particular passage. Example: O Mother, what passed through your heart when you left for your cousins in haste? I see your feet moving quickly on the ground in front of me and I'm trying to keep up pace with you. Your heart seems "held" in a strong presence of Love and Peace. I feel close to the person of Love, when I walk with you. Mary, I want your joy. Help me to hear, what my Heavenly Father is speaking to me, teach me to listen with my whole being, attentive to His voice and His lead. Teach me to wait on the Lord and then to follow His lead, without asking for more directions. What is it that He wants me to believe in right now, what is it, that He is saying to me, that I need to take to heart, to trust and believe in?
4th step. Contemplacio. Listen Receive and Be with Him.
5th step. Actio. What is God saying to me today and what does He want me believe in and say Yes to? Example: You are asking me to Trust, to believe that you are present in whatever frightens me and you are asking me to walk with you in this and trust that you have it. Grant me this grace Lord. I will Trust You, because you are all Love and Goodness.
Closing Prayer: Thank you Father, help me to be faithful to your voice moment by moment. I love you, increase my faith and teach me to pray. Amen