These readings for the day after the Feast of the Ascension invite multiple readings. On the one hand, celebration, in which even “Land of Hope and Glory” (see yesterday’s blog) has a place. Hannah (whose song is the template for Mary’s song, the Magnificat) did not celebrate in vain; the Gospel is transforming Jewish and Gentile lives in the capital of the Roman province of Asia; in a world in which destructive storms are inevitable, it is possible to build well-grounded lives.
On the other hand, Lenten self-examination. It turns out that the congregation addressed in Ephesians is typical of congregations in other times and places, firmly in the “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet” category. (The author, pleading [?]: “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light” [5:8; italics mine].) Hannah and Mary, time-traveling to that congregation (or ours): would they be encouraged? And Jesus in the third reading (expanded to include v.21, the beginning of the thought): He loves us too much to be satisfied with “Lord, Lord.” Where do we need to share His dissatisfaction?