Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lk 1:39-56

There's lots to read and discuss on the things Mary and Elizabeth had in common as relatives (1:36) that make it easier to see what they had in common spiritually as well, and how various things happen all the time among people and their relatives, that don't happen among people who are not our kin.

However, it is pretty explicitly told that the things Elizabeth were having in common at this visit (1:39-56) are not the run-of-the-mill kind of things!  How did Elizabeth know that Mary "believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord" (1:45)?  How did Mary become someone who sums up so eloquently the "prophetic perfect" tenses in what she says in 1:51-55, the prophetic idea, that what will happen, to the prophet, is written down to already have happened?!  God "has done" ... "has scattered" ... "has brought down" ... "has exalted" ... "has filled" ... "sent away" ... "has given help" ... (51-54), and all "in remembrance of His mercy." -- already! 

But is this all?  Is this just "oh, isn't it great that Mary can speak like so many of the Psalms, and prophets?"  and we leave it at that?  Or, has, really, this, ... really ... all happened?  We might be the ones not having our timing fully functional, and God, the prophets, the psalmists, and ... Mary!  have the sense of time correct!  Were Jesus and John the Baptist, as we have seen in Mk 1:15 and Mt 3:2 using a "turn of phrase" in announcing that the kingdom of God "has come near"-- another one of those tenses that are like Mary's here!? 

It's not a turn of phrase.  A similar thing strikes the reader in Jn 3 where according to 3:18, "he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed  ...."  Before we cry "unfair" or maybe even just "paradox" ... let's apply the corrective as if it were a math problem we got wrong.  We write down "God will do mighty deeds with His arm" and we are corrected: no, " _has done_...."  We write down "God will scatter the proud" and we are corrected: no, "has scattered" ... ... "he who does not believe will be judged" ... no, "has been judged."   It's a good corrective!  Whose time zone are we _really_ in?

1 comment:

Larry said...

Fine, but don't forget the coup de grace in Lk 1:54-55, where the help God has given to Israel is to "Israel His servant / as He spoke to our fathers,/ To Abraham and his seed forever."

The help that God has given Israel is forever. Few eschatologies except Paul's (Rm 11:26) have a place for this.


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