Besides Memorial Day, many of us observed the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin, while others observed Ramadan this week. Quite a variety of reasons to stop and think, but they have a lot in common. During Ramadan our Muslim sisters and brothers celebrate when the Quran was first revealed to Mohammed. In today’s frenzy of anti-radical, anti-ISIS sentiment it’s easy to forget that Isis no more represents the faith of Islam than did the KKK represent all members of the Christian faith. Historically, we are brothers and sisters or at least distant cousins, descendants of the book, heirs of the Abrahamic tradition. Combine chapters 3 and 19 of the Quran and Luke chapter 1 you get a lushly detailed picture of Mary’s birth and childhood and a detailed portrait of Zaharias from the Quran and the beauty of the visit of Mary to her older cousin Elizabeth in Luke.
According to the Quran Zaharias, sometimes referred to as Zachary, was a righteous man, humble and poor, of the same lineage as Mary’s mother, and he was Mary’s guardian. Mary had been dedicated to God at her birth by her mother. Zaharias visited her daily and found her well provided for with fruits out of season, “by God” Mary reported. Both Luke and the Quran agree though Zaharias had no earthly wealth, but he prayed for an heir to inherit his priestly tradition. His wife Elizabeth was barren and beyond child bearing years and Zaharias himself was old and gray, but still yearned for a child. When an angel told Zaharias he would have a son, out of disbelief Zaharias asked for a sign - the sign: Zaharias would be mute until the child was born. In Luke instructs the child be named John and outlines the life he will lead. Silently, Zaharias leaves the temple.
A few months later, Mary is visited by the Angel Gabriel and learns, though a virgin, she is to bear a son. In Luke she is living a distance from Elizabeth and Zaharias , but travels to visit them and share the news. As soon as she enters their home, the son in Elizabeth’s womb leaps and Elizabeth recites the verses we now know as the Magnificat. Each woman gives birth to a son some months apart, names them as directed by the angel, Zaharias regains his voice. Both sons grow into the heritage foretold by the angel and meet at the Jordan River when John baptizes Jesus.
This history is just one that can be found in both the Quran and the Bible. We share a history. At time when others worshipped a pantheon of gods, Islam, Judaism, and the emerging Christian faith recognized but one God. At baptism we promise to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself” and “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being”. Let us remember that when we listen to the news of the day.
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.
|Deacon Phyllis Moonogian|
THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES EVERYONE