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I am grateful today for all the wonderful women in my life who have played a part in my development and have nurtured me from before my birth until today. Why? Today’s gospel recounts that rich and meaningful story of Mary and Elizabeth, both pregnant with their first child. Elizabeth, the barren, aging one, has longed for motherhood and finally knows it is coming to her. Mary, her teenage relative, comes to visit in turmoil. She, with child when hardly more than a child herself, wonders how this has all happened and needs the solace of an elder woman who will, perhaps, help her to understand. Wonder of wonders, Elizabeth recognizes what is happening in Mary because of the gifted one she herself is carrying!

The story of the Visitation (LK 1:39-56) could be seen as a model for woman-to-woman relationships in all manner of situations. Sharing the fears and joyful expectations of motherhood, the trials and accomplishments of growing children, the prayer and struggles of women at work when challenges come – women need companions in these complex times. Younger women need older, wiser women for wisdom and elders need the young to help them accept the realities of aging.

Whether in a corporate office of a large company or in the kitchen chatting over paring vegetables, women need each other to help them feel whole. I love this gospel because if she had not had Elizabeth whose openhearted welcome greeted her, where would Mary have found the strength to manage what faced her? “Full of grace” herself, Mary recognized the one who recognized her with loving acceptance. And both were blessed.

I will spend this day, both physically and virtually, in the company of the women who sit in my memory and my reality and I will give thanks for the richness that is mine because of them.