Two women in today’s Mass readings are “barren,” a reality that brought them shame and isolation. Both of these women were blessed by God by conceiving a child: in Hannah’s case, Samson and in Elizabeth’s, John the Baptist. A horrible, cultural stigma placed upon all women at the time that measured her worth and value by her ability to conceive and give birth to a child. The letter “B” would be etched, not on her clothing, but in her heart.
The word “barren” can be used for men and women in our own day when their lives are empty of joy, trust and hope. Barrenness is a spiritual and psychological reality that occurs when we close in on ourselves, separate ourselves from the suffering of others. We become so self referenced that we become islands of loneliness.
Our God is a living God and wants us to have life and joy in abundance and overflowing out of ourselves and into the lives of those who need to be “filled.” When we allow God to fill us, the desert of our hearts is transformed into a lush garden where the flowers of inner peace, humility, joy, patience take root. These flowers of virtue are watered by GRACE. My mantra is: “All is GRACE.”
God wants us to believe in the impossible, no less than Zechariah and Mary: your barren hearts will conceive and give birth to a life, your life, your “true self,” rooted in Christ. In giving birth to our “true self,” we give birth to Christ.