12 October 2015

Luke 1

A week ago, my brother emailed all of our adult siblings plus our parents suggesting a long-distance Bible study of sorts, everyone reading one chapter of Luke a week and sharing reflections on it. Actually "suggesting" isn't exactly the right word, since he started off with a (joking) warning: "if you read any further than this line, refusal/backing out is not an option." He had a good point; reading Scripture is important, and it's easy to let it slip because we get busy. My siblings all jumped on board right away, and they and my mom shared reflections this week on the first chapter of Luke that were all well thought out bits of exegesis, referring back to different passages of Scripture and/or other spiritual or literary sources. 

And I kind of felt like Martha looking at Mary, reading their emails. Reading I can do, in little bits here and there, but I have little kids; I don't exactly have free stretches of time to ignore the kids and really reflect on what I've read. Somebody needs something of me pretty much from when I wake up until as I'm falling asleep, and I'm just not capable at this stage of even focusing enough attention to understand everything my siblings got out of the text, let alone come up with something worth contributing. And I'm not upset about that—God put me in a different state of life right now, and I'm happy where He has me—but it seems like there's not any point in my trying to participate, if we're on such different levels. I know they're my family and they'd much rather I join in regardless, but I feel badly bringing a box of store-brand sandwich cookies to a party where they've each baked something amazing from scratch, you know?

But while I was sitting at the end of Little Bear's bed last night, praying the joyful mysteries of the rosary to put him back to sleep at 2 am, I was thinking about the maternities of Mary and Elizabeth. And I decided that I should keep up with my family's chapter-a-week reading, try to read my siblings' reflections, and instead of diluting their erudite conversation with my less important musings, I'll post them here on Mondays if I can.

With that very long introduction, here is what stuck with me from Luke chapter 1:

• Zechariah was notified of Elizabeth's impending pregnancy, but was Elizabeth? Sarah got to overhear the difficult-to-believe promise of a son made to Abraham, but Elizabeth wasn't present when Gabriel visited Zechariah. Maybe her husband's sudden muteness was all the notice Elizabeth received. That's rather a large responsibility (and difficult, painful nine months) to drop on an elderly woman without warning.

• Elizabeth sees her pregnancy, as hard as it has to have been, as a gift from God "to take away my reproach among men." She is well past childbearing age; by this point it's been many years since she's had any reason to hope to ever have children. But she gratefully welcomes this new life, this colossal upending of life as she knew it, as a genuinely good thing, not as a burden to try and find something good about.

• Many translations I've heard say that Elizabeth "cried out in a loud voice, 'Blessed art thou..'" But the Vulgate says "cried out in a loud voice, and said, 'Blessed art thou...'" It could certainly mean the same thing, but I've read somewhere (years ago, I don't know where) that it was thought that the Visitation was the *first* time Elizabeth felt St John the Baptist move, and her "crying out in a loud voice" was a shout of joy before her greeting to Mary; being so far along and not yet having felt the baby move would have been so worrying.

• What all did Mary's freedom from the effects of Original Sin except her from? She spent her first trimester helping Elizabeth, so did she not have morning/evening/all-day sickness? Or did they in those days have a cure for morning sickness that allowed her to feel up to traveling across the country and helping out, that was too commonplace (and unimportant/unrelated) to bother writing down?

Nothing profound; hopefully nothing heretical. Want to read along too? I'll try to have my reflections up on each successive chapter of Luke's Gospel by the end of each Monday until we finish it, and I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment