Fear the Lord, Not Man
Gospel Reflection for August 15, 2022
Feeling rejected, judged, or misperceived by others is something that so many of us either experience, or fear experiencing. No matter how hard we try not to worry about what others think, we still sometimes stress about how people perceive us.
In today’s Gospel, on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we hear that Mary traveled in haste to visit her relative, Elizabeth. Mary had just been told by the angel Gabriel that she would conceive and bear a son by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that Elizabeth was also pregnant, despite her old age.
These two women were the epitome of the type of people that their culture rejected at the time. Mary was pregnant before having lived with her husband Joseph, which would clearly be condemned as adultery, and was severely punishable by law. Further, Elizabeth had failed to give her husband children for a very long time, which was considered shameful because bearing children was a woman’s primary purpose.
Mary and Elizabeth, however, wholeheartedly and faithfully embraced the will of the Lord, and did not worry about what others would think of them for doing so. This is because they put their trust in the Lord. They feared Him, and not man.
When Mary arrived at her relative’s house, Elizabeth did not need to be told that Mary was pregnant with the Lord. She knew and believed immediately because she was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she called both Mary and the fruit of her womb blessed. (Luke 1:41-42 NABRE) Elizabeth said to Mary, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)
Mary responded by praising God and His ways. She proclaimed that the Lord looks upon, and lifts up, those who are faithful to Him and fear Him.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48)
Mary and Elizabeth’s faith and obedience teaches us that the Lord can use us to accomplish great things if we submit to His will, and accept the possibility of being judged or rejected for doing so. We must not fear the judgement of man. Rather, like Mary, we must fear the Lord alone and faithfully do His will.