“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)
Today is the Feast Day of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We remember the joyful moment between Mary and Elizabeth, both pregnant with sons who would come into the world preaching love and upsetting the standard order of things. Icons and images of this moment show two women, embracing. Mary, we read in Luke, has encountered the Archangel Gabriel who has announced God would like to collaborate with her to birth Jesus into the world. Of course, she immediately goes with haste to see Elizabeth to share this news. God is also collaborating with Elizabeth to bring John the Baptist into the world.
This day, filled with the love and joy of two women, pregnant with God’s possibilities, seems to be in opposition to Jesus’ teachings on the great sorrow people can expect when they strive for popularity among all people.
Mary’s hymn reminds us otherwise. She sings of God who is faithful to God’s children, of God who lifts up the lowly and scatters the strong in their conceit, of God who fills the hungry with good things and sends away the rich empty.
She in her hymn and Jesus in his teachings remind us of God who is unimpressed by wealth, showy gestures, and the number of Twitter followers.
God is in love with us because we are God’s, and blesses us not because we have earned God’s love, but because God waits for us to leap with joy at the sound of love verbalized in the voices, songs, and lives of others. God loves the parts of us hungry for food and love, outcast from the popular table and from our own sense of worth, and vulnerable among a world obsessed with power.
Woe to us all when we forget to meet the voice of God with joy because we are more concerned with what the voices of others say about us. Woe to us when we forget to collaborate with God to birth love into the world because we collaborate with those who would oppress and belittle children of God. Woe to us when we choose to visit with the rich, full, and powerful instead of going in haste to be with those who remind us of our own fragility and vulnerability.
May our souls magnify the Lord. May our spirits rejoice in God our Savior. And may we leap with joy at our own lowliness, the beloved of God.