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  • Writer's pictureEllen Romer Niemiec

Speaking with Joy

Feast of the Visitation

It is an intimate thing to tell someone you’re pregnant. Whatever road you took to find you are pregnant, it can be joyful, daunting, scary, unexpected, even unwanted. Who you tell is often who you want to help hold you, body and soul. We don’t really find out in Luke’s gospel when Mary tells Joseph that she’s pregnant. We do know that the next thing to happen after Gabriel leaves Mary is that she heads out to find Elizabeth.

While Mary’s circumstances are unusual, unbelievable, even precarious - there is so much sharing of joy between these two women! Even more so than the joy of pregnancy, they are sharing an intimate moment of shared faith. For Mary and for Elizabeth, their circumstances are quite unbelievable - and yet they both believe. While others may have doubts - their spouses among them - they have joy and gratitude for one another and most especially for God. It can be so difficult to share about one’s faith and to believe that the impossible can happen. The visitation is a safe and sacred space for them. They can speak aloud to each other what is truly on their hearts and within their bodies and souls.

We get to witness in this gospel two women whose pregnancies inspire them to speak. Their shared intimacy creates a space where they can speak about what is on their hearts.They are conduits of God’s love and action in the world not only by physically growing the bodies of John and Jesus, but through their voices that ring out with praise to God. At this point in time, other voices have been quieted. Zechariah is unable to speak because of his unbelief and we don’t hear anything recorded from Joseph. Space is made within this part of the gospel for Mary and Elizabeth’s prophetic voices to shine through. They bear witness to God’s love, mercy and power and the unimaginable ways in which God chooses to work in the world. They bear witness to belief in the unbelievable. They are signs of new life where it was believed none could grow.

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