This reflection was written by Maureen Waldron in 2011.
When my daughter, Katy, was born, my best friend was in the hospital. She wasn’t sick but was confined to bed for the last several months of her pregnancy. Her husband and toddler were at home and it was a difficult and discouraging time, but she dealt with it gracefully. One afternoon I brought my newborn Katy to the hospital to see my friend. She was delighted with the visit and marveled, as my husband and I had, at this beautiful girl who was now our daughter. At one point, as Katy laid across her pregnant stomach, we laughed that our children were meeting for the first time. Six weeks later, her miraculous daughter, Anne, was born.
I think of that joyful experience every time I read this gospel. There is something about motherhood that creates a bond among women, especially women who love each other. Elizabeth and Mary, neither one of them expecting to be pregnant, were now carrying their children and were filled with the joy that comes with that.
Was the experience without fears? Probably not. Every pregnancy brings anxieties, every experience of parenthood comes fully equipped with inadequacies and apprehensions. But even in their very human fears, both women trusted in God. Mary, whose pregnancy had begun in fear, had trusted in God and said “Yes.”
So many questions remained unanswered in the two women’s lives and yet they had such delight and trust in God! Why does my own life seem so different at times? It is as if I am reluctant to turn over control of my own life to God. There are times I feel like I am wrestling for control of my own life away from God, proclaiming proudly, “I can handle this God. I’ll call you if I need you.”
Humility is not a valued trait in our culture, but it means simply being nothing more than who I really am. It helps me to move the focus of my life from me to someone else. Today’s gospel invites us to focus on God as the center of our lives, and to live in the joy that comes with surrendering that control.
Show me how, Mary. Somedays I simply have no humility in my life. I don’t want help and I don’t trust that it will be there even if I ask. Your life and words are filled with such joy. You have the fears but have learned to trust in God. It’s what I long for but never ask for.
Dear Lord, give me the grace to surrender to you. Let me trust that you are there for me. Hold me as close to you as a newborn is held by a parent. Teach me how to be humble so that with the same joy as Mary and Elizabeth, I can serve in the way you want me to.