This week. Hit a few bumps on the let’s-take-twenty-people-to-Spain road. Over-committed to too many things (and therefore frustrated myself because I couldn’t accomplish all of them and emerge a functioning human being). Didn’t learn my lesson, though, and continued to say “yes”!
This is me.
So I go to confession all, “Hi. I’m really good at screwing up” and the priest gives me absolution and I walk outside into the sunshine.
Since, during the week, I work in the city I decided to walk around. I happened upon another church (it’s the city!!) and walked in to pray. Turns out, they were celebrating the mass. So, I slipped into the very last pew and listened. Friday was the Feast of the Visitation, which I knew but forgot until they started reading the gospel where Mary travels in haste to Elizabeth, they greet each other and Mary busts out the Magnificat–a beautiful song of praise to her creator.
I thought about that moment.
Here’s one woman, Mary. Mary is, at the time of the Visitation, mysteriously pregnant, engaged to man who doesn’t yet know of this pregnancy (and the baby isn’t his) and living in a culture where stoning is a permissible reaction to such things. Plus, she has now traveled far, far from her family. Plus, the government around her is full of violence and upheaval.
Elizabeth is also mysteriously pregnant, after years of being without children. Plus, now her husband can’t speak and she’s not really sure what that’s all about or if he’ll ever speak again. Plus, first-time pregnancy is a little scary plus first-century medicine is even more scary plus here’s a house-guest when this older woman is pregnant for the first time. And, good Lord, the house-guest is pregnant, too. I’m no expert, but that seems like a lot of morning sickness to go around.
And these two women see each other and the joy just starts happening. In the midst of the crazy that surrounds them–God is there. They know it. He is there, incarnate in Mary’s womb.
So Mary sings.
“I don’t actually know what’s going on or what’s going to happen, but I KNOW that God loves me and that He will care for me. Bless His holy name, ya’ll.”
(That’s a loose translation. I’m no biblical scholar).
On Sunday I sidled into the pew at the Cathedral next to my friend, Matt, for the Feast of Corpus Christi.
I sit like a little kid at mass, generally speaking, with my feet resting on the kneelers and my posture slouchy.
The reading was about hungry people, Philip saying that things seemed impossible, and Jesus making miracles happen when someone offered five loaves and two fish.
“Hey, Jesus, you can use my bread. There are only five. It’s all I have.”
“Thanks, kid, I think I’ll go feed FIVE THOUSAND PEOPLE.”
I still don’t know how this works, guys. I don’t know how Mary conceives, how Elizabeth accepts everything, how everyone gets fed (and baskets left over!). Madness.
There’s madness all around. Madness in all the whirling, rushing, oppressing concerns of our lives and days and times. Madness like in the days when Mary conceived. Madness like in the days when people wanted a King and Jesus fed them and high-tailed it to pray. Madness when a government oppressed its people and killed Jesus and later destroyed Jerusalem.
And yet, Mary still sings her song.
And Jesus still comes to us in the Eucharist. Our glimmer of hope and peace in the midst of so much else.
It’s pretty much the only thing I can cling to.
I don’t know how this all works out. I don’t know what happens. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. But, Jesus is here.
Praise His holy name, ya’ll.
I really love being Catholic.