Dec. 22 Luke 1:39-56 Lina Belar
I once had a priest tell me that Mary was the first feminist. This was not an ordinary priest. He had been a chaplain during WWII and came away a devout pacifist. He never served in the high churches but instead sought to do some good in the poor rural reaches of Minnesota. He was a plain man with simple needs and I spent several months talking with him about marriage. I was 40 years old, once divorced, and engaged to be married to a Minnesota boy whose family had settled here more than 100 years ago as part of a group from Ohio. They were following a radical priest who had displeased the bishop of another state with his notions of inclusiveness and equality among all. So it wasn’t surprising that this rural country priest thought of Mary as someone important. She might have been a peasant girl of low estate but for thousands of years afterwards she would be called blessed and be a symbol of importance unlike anyone who had come before her. And with the simple and magical act of giving birth to Jesus she ushered in a new world with new promises and new hopes and new admonitions.
“Turn the other cheek”, Jesus said and everybody grumbled because it had always been the habit to return injustice with justice and that was the way things stayed level. It was also the way they stayed the same, generation after generation, people fearing other people. “Love your neighbor”, he said and added, “as yourself”. Well, how can we do that if we don’t turn the other cheek? Exactly. Jesus’ logic was unassailable. And simple. Like the simple peasant girl who bore him. Can we be that simple, too?
Today, another woman has our attention. A woman who has achieved what no one else had done before and is now the vice-president elect of the United States. Let us pray that we can all follow Jesus’ simple request to love our neighbors and to forgive our former enemies.