December 18

Luke 1:39-42

“And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’” vss. 41b-42

Luke began his account of the life of Jesus with an exploration of his origins and includes two birth narratives that have been irresistible for artists and theologians for centuries. He wants his readers to know that what happened in Jesus was the work of the Holy Spirit, and that emphasis continues through the whole of his gospel and the book of Acts. He understands the Holy Spirit as the very presence of the Divine, that mysterious force that breaks into our lives and that directs us in new, exciting, and fruitful ways. Obviously the Holy Spirit captured and led Jesus in his mission, but that wasn’t the beginning of the Spirit’s connections. The Spirit had worked through the prophets and now, in the fullness of time, had burst into history once again, and had spoken through two powerful women of faith. We can feel Luke’s excitement in his description of Elizabeth’s response to Mary’s visit. The words he used have become a centerpiece for Catholic piety and are said millions of times a day with every “Hail Mary” uttered. Because of them Mary has become for many the feminine aspect of God–an always available source of compassion and forgiveness. We can only applaud Luke’s insights and expansive description of the Spirit’s work. There is no person through whom the Spirit cannot work or speak!

Thought for the Day: What’s it like to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

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