This passage, the third in the English bishops’ suggested texts for reflection on marriage as part of the consultation process for the Rome Family Synod 2015, is the familiar story of the Annunciation, Mary’s subsequent visit to Elizabeth, and her song of praise, the “Magnificat”. (The text may be read here, at Bible Gateway)
In my lectio divina practice, for the passage, I went through this as three distinct reflections. For each, I give the phrases that most struck me, followed by my reasons.
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
For nothing will be impossible with God
For gay Catholics, we are often told that the Church will not change in its response to same – sex relationships, or that it cannot change. This text is an important reminder that this “impossibility” cannot be so. A change in Church practice and even teaching is indeed possible – and now seems increasingly likely.
……. let it be with me according to your word
This submission to God’s will, the most important lesson of the entire passage, reminds us that what is important is working in accordance with God’s word – not made – made Vatican rules.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.
One clear message in fhe Gospels, is that of radical inclusion for all. Like Elizabeth, we too must believe in the “fulfilment” of this promise.
Mary’s Song of Praise
,,,he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant
…..and lifted up the lowly
For “lowly”, read “marginalized”, and it certainly true that for centuries, gay people have been marginalized, or even persecuted, in the Church and in society.
There is particular comfort reading these words the day after a group of lgbt Catholic pilgrims to Rome were given VIP seating at the papal audience in Rome – on Ash Wednesday, a day when we can usefully call to mind “the Ashes of Our Martyrs”!
The English bishops write:
After the ‘wondering’ about what struck you, or caught your attention, begin to talk about Mary’s experience, as a young mother, her faith and response to God, and how this speaks to you in your lives, and your own faith response.
Some of the following questions might help the conversations:
- Who listens to you? Who do you listen to? When and how do you ‘listen’ to those in your family? What does it feel like, to listen, especially in difficult times?
- How do you ‘listen to God’? What does that feel like?
- How does Mary listen to God? What are her immediate/later responses?
- What might you include in your ‘Song of Praise’ about your life and family?
- What’s it like finding out about a new baby on the way? What’s going on in your hearts and minds as parents? As wider family? What’s it like being a parent for the first time? What are the hopes and the concerns? What helps?
The key questions to draw the conversation together:
- How does this story ‘speak’ to us about our ‘call’ to be a family?
- How does it speak to our ‘journey’?
- How does it speak to us about our ‘purpose’ or ‘mission’ as a family?
- What support do we need from the Church?
- What is already available? What needs to be developed?
- From our family life experience, what do we offer that could enrich the life of the Church?