Praying with the Sisters—December 19, 2022
This reflection was shared during our Praying With The Sisters live-streamed prayer on Facebook. A Nun’s Life was joined by guest Sister Audra Turnbull, IHM, who is a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe, MI.
(The video recording of our prayer can be found below the blog.)
Reflection on Luke 1:10-25
I always contrast this meeting of the Angel Gabriel and Zechariah with Gabriel and Mary. Both Zechariah and Mary basically ask the same question about having children: How can this be? Gabriel's response was much harsher on Zechariah than on Mary.
I wonder if it is because the Angel Gabriel did more explaining to Zechariah about his future son John than he did with Mary about Jesus. Or maybe when Zechariah says, “I am an old man and my wife is beyond child-bearing years,” he is speaking FOR Elizabeth too – not just himself. And really who is going to do most of the work during this pregnancy? His wife Elizabeth! Maybe these are the reasons the Angel Gabriel was harsher on him.
Pregnancy is often seen in terms of a harvest as in the line of the Hail Mary, the fruit of your womb. People in Jesus’ time knew that all of life was dependent on time to gestate or germinate into a mature being. And just as a fruit tree could be cut down for being barren or unable to produce fruit, so too could the women in that society who were unable to conceive and bear children. These women were labeled barren and were not seen as full members of society.
Being barren could have been a reason for divorcing a woman in Jesus’ time, such as the societal imperative that marriage produces children to continue the family line. Therefore, both Elizabeth and Zechariah were living with shame over their inability to bear children. But Elizabeth shouldered more of the shame because her personal identity and social status were tied to bearing children. At the end of today’s gospel reading Elizabeth praises and thanks God for “take(ing) away my disgrace before others.”
I think the important takeaway from this Gospel is to ponder how Zechariah and Elizabeth daily yearned, longed, hoped, and waited for this miracle of a child over their years. This was their Advent journey. I also think of Gabriel’s answer to Mary - For nothing is impossible for God. This is also true for Zechariah and Elisabeth.
Reflect on a time in your life when God has shown you a way forward even when you thought it was impossible.