21 December 2011

'The babe in my womb leaped for joy'

The Visitation, El Greco, painted 1610-13

El Greco captures the swirling dance of life in today's gospel. When the babe in Elizabeth's womb, St John the Baptist, leaped for joy upon the arrival of his cousin Jesus, in the womb of Mary. St Luke tells us twice that the infant in Elizabeth's womb leaped.

My friend Lala below, feeding her friend Jordan, wasn't a source of joy to her mother when she was born 31 years ago. Her mother, probably in great distress but perhaps with hope in her heart, left her newborn baby in a garbage pail where she was found and taken to the orphanage of the Daughters of Charity in Cebu City. today she lives in the L'Arche community in Cainta, Rizal, part of the great urban sprawl of Metro Manila.

Lala is certainly a source of joy to all who know her. Jordan, born with multiple disabilities, has been in the L'Arche community for most of his life.

While Lala didn't have to go 'with haste into the hill country' to take care of Jordan, she shows the same love that Mary did for her elderly cousin Elizabeth, gifted with a child long after she had thought this possible.

On one feast of the Visitation I celebrated Mass in a home for girls. One was a teenage mother-to-be who could not accept that the child in her womb was hers. Before the final blessing I gave a special blessing to her and her child. She told me after Mass that the child had moved in her womb during the blessing and that she was now at peace with her situation. She later delivered a healthy son.

Lala and Jordan

Today's Gospel, Luke 1: 39-45 (RSV, Catholic Edition)

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

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