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At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 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 favored, 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. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Luke 1:39-45
Points to Ponder:
According to today’s passage of Scripture, Elizabeth – expectant mother of John the Baptist – was literally overjoyed to have her cousin Mary come to her home for an extended visit of about three months. We aren’t given a concrete reason for Mary’s trip, although I have often wondered if part of it came as an effort for the young, unmarried, mother-to-be to avoid for a time the stares and whispers that surely plagued Mary in her hometown. Whether or not this is true, we can gather from what Scripture tells us that both cousins were blessed by each other and blessed by God Himself…so much so that even Elizabeth’s soon-to-be-born son felt the excitement. Each woman saw and recognized the not-so-distant coming of the incarnate Jesus through those eyes of faith that would later be described by the Apostle Paul as a source of blessing (see 2 Corinthiams 4:18).
In Greek, the original language of the New Testament, the word translated as blessed is   makarios, a term that literally means an escalated type of happiness or a beatitude. Particularly, makarios describes a specific kind of joy – one that is serene and untouchable, self-contained, and independent from chance and changing circumstances of life.
In that case, makarios sounds like something I could really get into right about now. How about you?
Ironically, however, a paradox of sorts exists for those blessed by the Lord; the paradox would affect Mary and Elizabeth just as it does the rest of God’s children. I think of this irony as something called the Blessing/Sword Paradox. Consider this example: Mary received the makarios of being the mother of the Son of God but that blessedness would later morph into a sword and painfully pierce her heart as she stood helplessly by on Golgotha as her Son – God’s Son – was crucified. Anselm, a teacher and Church father went so far as to explain the paradox thus in the 11thCentury: “Without God’s Son nothing could exist; without Mary’s Son, nothing could be redeemed.” 
The person handpicked by God for His service and glory bears all-and-at-once a mind-boggling privilege and heavy responsibility. Notice that what we know of Mary’s life from the time of her visit with Elizabeth ran anything but smoothly. Truly, she received favor from God and an unimaginable crown of joy when He chose her to serve as mother to Jesus. But she also received a cross of sorrow that would culminate in the death of her precious Boy just as the prophets foretold centuries earlier.
Mary’s visit to Elizabeth as she began preparing for the birth of Jesus – as well as the paradox of makarios – holds great significance within the lives of those handpicked by God for His service and glory today. If you consider yourself a follower of Christ, this is you. Think about it for a moment: if the woman chosen as the very mother of Jesus was not granted immunity to the Blessing/Sword Paradox, how can we legitimately expect to receive that immunity ourselves?
The truth is that even if we were to muster the pride to feed such an expectation, God would never grant us sucj immunity. But He does honor His promise to sustain us and our joy or makarioswith every cross of sorrow we bear in Christ’s name. He honors this promise through the Holy Spirit’s presence within our lives (John 14:16, 26; 15:26).
This is the same Holy Spirit referenced in today’s Scripture. He was there when Elizabeth greeted Mary and recognized the Messiah whom Mary carried in her womb. Both women were filled with the Holy Spirit and, as a result, a joyful anticipation of the coming fulfilment of God’s promise of Messiah that wouldn’t be squelched by even the future heartaches and worst gossip that Mary may encounter. He filled not only the hearts of Mary and Elizabeth, in fact, but the child in Elizabeth’s womb as well.  John the Baptist, even before Mary gave birth, felt the excitement of Christ’s incarnation and leaped for joy in the womb of his mother when the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King of Kings.
The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to mankind as a Sustainer of makarios in a world of sorrows. One of His overarching purposes is the enabling of us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom within our lives and the lives of those around us. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us and gives us inexplicable peace in times of turmoil.
– Copyright 2016, Carole Anne Hallyburton. All Rights Reserved.
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Focus for Reflection:
Think of a time when you had an overwhelming realization of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. Describe your initial emotions and reaction in light of that realization.
Does the role of the Holy Spirit in Luke 1:39-45) in any way shape or reshape your reaction to the swords that come amid the makarios of your life as you wait expectantly for Christ’s second coming? How so?
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