This coming Sunday is the 4th Sunday in Advent in cycle C of the lectionary. The gospel, the final words from Elizabeth are: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)
Several weeks ago a blind man shouted out to Jesus, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” (Mark 10:47). Similarly, words of Elizabeth are “cried out” (anaphoneo) with a “loud voice” (krauge megale). First Elizabeth “eulogizes” Mary and the “fruit of her womb.” Literally, the word eulogeo means “to speak well of,” then “to praise,” then “to bless,” and finally, it can refer to deeds that bring blessings, “to act kindly towards.”
There is a sense that this word not only declares the blessing or praise, but makes it happen. It is used by Jesus over the bread and fish at the feeding of the 5000 (Luke 9:16); and by the risen Jesus over the bread at the home in Emmaus where he is made known to the two (Luke 24:30).
Why is Mary blessed/praised? She is “the mother of the Lord.” This is what sets Mary apart from all other believers. This too is the working of the Spirit. I’m not sure how many of us would be praising/blessing a young teenage, (probably 12-14 years old,) unmarried girl whom we discover is pregnant.
Elizabeth’s joy at her own pregnancy after so many years of barrenness is overshadowed by the joy at Mary’s visit – or rather that the unborn Lord would honor her with his presence. How wonderful it would be if we had that same attitude concerning the presence of our Lord in our gathering together, and in the Word, and in the Eucharist: “Blessed be God who has come to us this day.” I think that too often we think of worship as our good deed of bringing ourselves to God, when, in fact, it is a time and place where God comes to us.
As the mother of the Lord, Mary is unique. As one who believes that God’s Word will be fulfilled, she is a model of faith for us all.