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August 1999

Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled. (Luke 1:45)

These words are associated with an event that is at the same time both simple and sublime. Two expectant mothers have such spiritual and physical harmony with their unborn children, that when Elizabeth and Mary meet, their words express the feelings of the children within them. When Mary speaks, Elizabeth's child leaps with joy. When Elizabeth speaks, it is as if her words come from John the Baptist.1

Elizabeth's first words of praise to Mary are directed personally to the mother of the Lord, but her final words are said in the third person, ‘Blessed is she who believed’, so her affirmation is presented as a universal truth that applies to all believers. The beatitude concerns all who accept the word of God and who put it into practice, and for whom Mary is an ideal model.

Blessed is she who believed...

This is the first beatitude of the Gospel that relates to Mary, but it is also relevant to anyone who wants to follow and imitate what she did. In Mary there is a close bond between faith and motherhood, which is a consequence of listening to the Word.

Here Luke is suggesting something that concerns us too. Later in his Gospel Jesus says: ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.’ (Luke 8:2 1) Moved by the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth almost anticipates these words, telling us that each disciple can become a 'mother' of the Lord, provided that they believe in the Word of God and translate it into life.

Blessed is she who believed...

After Jesus, Mary is the one who said ‘yes’ to God in the most perfect way. This is the primary the essence of her holiness and greatness. If Jesus is the incarnate Word of God, Mary, by virtue of her faith in the Word, is the Word lived. Nevertheless she is a creature like us and so is one of us.

While Mary's role as mother of God is remarkable and great, she is not the only one asked by God to give life to Christ in herself. Although in a different way, every Christian has the similar task of incarnating Christ, to the point of being able to repeat the words of St. Paul, ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. (Gal. 2: 20)

How can we achieve this?

We should have the same attitude that Mary had towards the Word of God. In other words we need to be totally open to it, and like Mary, believe that all the promises contained in the Word of Jesus will be fulfilled. Then we can be ready to risk facing the absurd consequences that his Word can sometimes bring.

Things great and small, but always wonderful, happen to those who believe in the Word. We could fill books with facts that show this.

How can we ever forget what happened to us in the midst of the war when, believing in the words of Jesus 'Ask, and it will be given to you' (Matt. 7:7), we asked for all that the many poor people in our town needed, and then witnessed the arrival of sacks of flour, tinned milk and jam, wood and clothing?

The same things happen today too: 'Give, and it will be given to you' (Luke 6:38). The store cupboards of charity are always full because they are regularly emptied. But the most impressive thing is to see that everywhere Jesus' words are always true. God's help arrives just when it is needed, even in impossible situations and in the most remote places on earth.

For example, a short while ago a mother who was living in great poverty. One day she felt that she should give the little money she had to someone poorer than herself. She believed in the words 'give and it will be given to you'. She felt a great peace in doing this. A little while later her younger daughter came in and showed her a gift just received from an elderly relative who had dropped in by chance. In her tiny hand was several times the money that had been given away.

'Little' experiences like this encourage us to believe in the Gospel, and each of us can experience the joy and happiness which comes from seeing Jesus' promises come true.

When, in everyday life, we come into contact with the Word of God by reading the Scriptures, let's open our hearts to listen. Let’s believe that what Jesus asks and promises will come about. It will not be long before we discover, like Mary and that mother too, that he keeps his promises.

Chiara Lubich

1: Gerard Rossť: Il Vangelo di Luca, Rome, 1992, p.67.

 

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