Focolare Word of Life - December 2021

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” (Lk 1:45)

By Letizia Magri

This month, too, the Word of Life is a beatitude. It is the joyful, inspired greeting of one woman to another: Elizabeth is speaking to Mary who has come to help her. They are both expecting a child, and being profound believers, they have both welcomed the Word of God and experienced its generating power in their humble lives.

 Mary is the first blessed in Luke’s Gospel. She is the first person to experience the fullness of the joy of intimacy with God. With this beatitude, for the first time, the evangelist reflects on the relationship between the announcement of the Word of God and the faith that welcomes it—in other words, between God’s initiative and the person’s free response. 

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Mary is the true believer in the “promise made to Abraham and his descendants forever” (Lk 1:55). She is so empty of herself, so humble and open to listening to the Word that the Word of God itself can become flesh in her womb and enter the history of humankind.

No one can experience the same motherhood as Mary, but we can all imitate her and trust in God’s love. If we welcome the Word with an open heart, its promises can become incarnate in us too and make our lives fruitful in many ways — as citizens, parents, students, workers or politicians, whether we are young or old, healthy or sick. 

What if, like Zechariah, our faith is uncertain? (See Lk 1:5–25, 67–79.) We can continue to trust in God’s mercy. He will not stop seeking us, until we too rediscover his faithfulness and bless him.

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Among the same hills of the Holy Land, in far more recent times, another mother who had deep faith taught her children the art of forgiveness and dialogue as she had learned from the Gospel. This was a small sign in this land, the cradle of civilization, which has always sought peace and stability, even among the followers of different religions.

“We children were offended and upset because the other children who were neighbors said that they did not want to mix with us,” remembers Margaret Karram, Focolare’s current president. “Our mother told us to invite these children to our house, and she gave them some bread that she had freshly baked and told them to take it home to their families. Since then, we have been able to build friendships with these people.”

 Focolare founder Chiara Lubich also supports us in having this courageous faith. “After Jesus, Mary is the one who knew how to say ‘yes’ to God in the best and most perfect way. This is the source of her holiness and her greatness,” she wrote in a Gospel commentary in 1999.

“If Jesus is the Word, the incarnate Word, Mary, because of her faith in the Word, is the Word lived, but is also a creature like us, equal to us...

“Therefore, we can believe like Mary that all the promises contained in Jesus’ words will be fulfilled and, if necessary, like her, run the risk of facing the absurdity that his word sometimes brings.

“Great and small, but always wonderful things happen to those who believe in the Word. We could fill books with the facts that prove this...

“When, in our daily lives, in reading the Holy Scriptures we encounter the Word of God, let us open our hearts to listen, with the faith that what Jesus asks of us, and promises will come true. It will not be long before we discover... that he keeps his promises.”

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

In this time of preparation for Christmas, let’s remember Jesus’ surprising promise to be present among those who accept and live the commandment of mutual love: “Where two or three are united in my name — that is, in evangelical love — I am in their midst” (Mt 18:20).

With firm belief in this promise, let us allow Jesus to be born again today in our homes and in our streets through our mutual acceptance, by listening deeply to one another and, like Mary and Elizabeth, by fraternally welcoming one another.

Read more:

Lubich, Chiara: Mary, Transparency of God. New City Press: 2003, pp. 52–53.

Lubich, Chiara: “I want to see her in you,” Mary: Her identity, our identity. New City Press: 2018, pp. 51–69.

Next month:

“We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him.” (Mt 2:1-2)