Not all gatherings are divine. Some are get-togethers of people who have only goals that are shallow and of this earth. Some people gather seeking The Deity as they understand and are truly open to what will happen. Some gatherings are mixed in intent. Maybe wanting God but on very tight terms. But true openness to gather in God’s presence is always an encounter with God in intimacy and grace.
A factor we can see in a true gathering in God is in the meeting of species like when the angel Gabriel came to human Mary passing on a divine proposal. Case in point of two humans with a resolutely divine purpose is Mary coming to her relative Elizabeth. Mary carries Jesus and Elizabeth carries John who would prepare the way for Jesus. In this gathering is a calling and a called out gathering in the Greek is ecclesia. Ecclessia is where we get church or iglesia in Spanish. To an observer with the carnal eye it is a meeting of two women who may have lumps in their bellies. To a divine observer there was more than two by far, as we will see, with women of great significance to salvation history.
“During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:39-45).
traveled to the hill country….. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord[n] should come to me?—– These lines show this great fellowship to be a case of the “Old is revealed in The New” (Augustine of Hippo). These details have been pointed out by Scott Hahn in Hail, Holy Queen and Tim Staples in Behold Your Mother as closely related to when the Ark of The Covenant went to the hill country of Obed-Edom and then to King David who said parallel wording to that of Elizabeth. What we see here is a special recognition of the presence of God in a place that is out of the way but yet appointed.
and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice—— In this line is a layer of worship in spirit and truth (John 4) that speaks of a new Ark of The Covenant and its proper devotion. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and translated into Greek. The New Testament was generally written in Greek including Luke. In the Old Testament the term “cried out” is used many times but there was one word for it that was used only when the Ark of the Covenant, an object that was sanctified by the presence of God, was used. This word was used seven times in the Old Testament and used only once in the New—-right here. True this conversation was originally in Aramaic but Luke has a way with words in translation for a theological purpose. As to our devotional purpose we can see the presence of Jesus as both divine and inherently a worship event whether quiet or not.
filled with the Holy Spirit,…. the infant in my womb leaped for joy—- This shows us that this church on this front yard in Judea is bigger than two. We know from other scriptures that the Holy Spirit is a person. That makes three. We know the Holy Spirit fills people and not things so John makes four. And if John is a person in the womb then so is Jesus so that makes a party of five. We can apply right there that in a valid church gathering there should be an openness to life in all its forms and the filling of the Holy Spirit. We see this repeated by Luke in his sequel, Acts, in how the early established church had that experience.
Blessed are you who believed—– This is the last but not least mark of true church we can get and if we blink we will miss it. Mary is not to be understood as a model of faith because she was a bullseye target for the Holy Spirit to conceive Jesus and be an incidental vessel. She is known in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition to be one who cooperated her faith and works with God’s will. This shows the mark of a true church to be obedient to God’s will in pursuit of holiness. The theme we get so much in the bible is that believe is a pregnant word that assumes a corresponding action to what God asks.
If ones experience of God’s kingdom begins and ends with personal happiness then it is not God’s kingdom but a kingdom of self. In this passage we see that the Holy Spirit indwells, all are counted with a culture of life and we come with resolved manner of obedience. I frequently ask “What’s stopping us?” Today I ask, are you caught up with the gatherings and mentalities of the world that would prevent you from those that are divine?
Most blessed are you among women— If we get out into a higher mindset, we can be a light in the world that casts out darkness. This term is also used in the Old Testament for women that nail or cut off the head of the enemy literally (Jael, Judith). If you are in sync on the details above, how does one not take the fight to the enemy with spiritual weapons? We do that by continually relying on God’s grace and applying such grace in simplicity.
Years later Paul saw it this way saying, “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Corinthians 10:4).Paul goes further in the implication for how Christians engage in warfare in basic principles.
“For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil; then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you” (Romans 16:19-20).