Tis the Season of ‘The Gospel of Life’
Mary Taking Leave of Elizabeth and Zacharias by Lorenzo Salimben
My mother took leave of cousin Elizabeth, Zacharias and newborn John. It had been a wonderful visit but she felt it was time to leave now that John had been born. She wanted to get back to her life in Nazareth and Joseph.
“It seems not unlikely that, during the course of this prolonged journey by foot or donkey back to Nazareth , Mary’s thoughts would wander to Messianic scripture passages ‑ searchingly, expectantly. Granted, we can not know the exact nature of Mary’s thoughts and reflections in these circumstances, but we know she loved the scriptures and knew them well. They were alive for her! She was living out age‑old prophecies. That is, she was physically, maternally linked to the One in her womb fulfilling all prophecy! To guide our reflections let’s consider some of the Messianic texts from the Prophet Isaiah which were widely known throughout Israel.
Her mind would have naturally gravitated to chapters 7‑12 of Isaiah which form a distinct section ‑ the Book of Immanuel ‑ in which we find repeated references to the Messiah. Within this “Book of Immanuel”, there are a number of references to the Messiah as a baby and small child. This unique prophetic perspective on the Child Messiah would have fascinated Mary, and should be of great interest to our modern world. Let’s consider some of these verses:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 (NAB)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”…. Isaiah 9:6
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6
Isaiah, under the influence of the Spirit of God, focuses on a “child” (a son) who is the Messiah and more, he is Immanuel (God with us), Mighty God and Prince of Peace. And in some real way, this “little child shall lead” us. Not by mere coincidence has the Church come to love these prophetic passages with a tender passion. The Church sees the incarnational mystery revealed here in beauty, hope and peace.
Now if Isaiah was attracted by this “child”, Mary was completely mesmerized. A shiver probably ran up her spine whenever she recalled the words: “…the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and name him Immanuel”. For Mary was the virgin chosen by God to fulfill this prophecy and her unborn baby was the promised One. But all Christians should share in that same prophetic shiver of anticipation at hearing “to us a child is born” and “to us a son is given”. To us Unborn Jesus was sent as a sign of hope ‑ and for every vulnerable unborn child: He is their only Hope.
Curiously, in this same passage from Isaiah we are once again given His “name”: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”! Actually these four words speak to the identity of this most special Child. Mary, the pregnant mother, would have meditated on these words often, perhaps recalling as she did, the singular Divine titles given to her Son by the Angel Gabriel, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and yes, even by the great prophet Isaiah! These witnesses unfold the Divine Identity of the tiny Person she carries within her womb. She was overcome by this reality ‑ peacefully overwhelmed by the Prince of Peace.”
Taken from Unborn Jesus Our Hope by George Peate