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Theology Journal: Reflection on Today's Lukan Reading

From the reading today:

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy."

We have these experiences--epiphanies, highs, mountain-top experiences, moments of clarity or enlightenment or whatever we want to call them--and they're significant, and we are wise when we recognize them as such. And it struck me that the unborn John "leaped" in Elizabeth's womb. He didn't do that because he thought, "Yay! Unborn baby Jesus is here!" Or "I'm in the presence of God Incarnate--the very beginning of the Hypostatic Union!" Or that he recognized Mary's voice or anything like that. Any reading like that would be absurd. But in not "demythologizing" the story to non-existence, what would I say happened? And I found myself thinking about how babies act more or less on reflex. And this action, too, seemed like reflex. Is that to say it was co-incidence? No, because a reflex happens in response to some cause, some motive or action. In this case, that cause was the entrance of God, in the form of the unborn Christ and his Mother.

These experiences that we have that I mentioned above, these, too, are reflexes, when it is us who "leap for joy," even though we may not understand what exactly has happened to us. We may not even connect it to God. We may not believe in God at that moment. But we do know that in some way the universe just leaned over us and made itself known in such a way that we kicked, shouted or leaped for joy, even if we have no words to explain what just happened to us. I doubt that the unborn John had any idea what had just happened. John probably didn't have much in the way of ideas at all in that stage of his life. But there was a cause, and there was an effect. We're older and cleverer than John was: do we always remember to trace these effects back to their cause, back to the Cause? Or do we just tend to focus on the great feeling of the effect, and maybe go looking for more effects, unconnected to the cause? Do we fail to recognize that reflex only happens in response to the proper cause and settle for imitations? No matter how much we leap around, then, it just doesn't feel the same.
Tags: biblical studies, gospels, liturgical, mysticism/spirituality, theological notebook
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