Tuesday 31 May 2011

Feast of the Visitation

LUKE 1:39-56
During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said: “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. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear Him. He has shown might with His arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry He has filled with good things; the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped Israel His servant, remembering His mercy, according to His promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.


Today we celebrate the feast of the Visitation. The visit to Elizabeth by Mary is not just a link between relatives but two people graced by God in different ways and both bringing God’s promises to fulfillment. Elizabeth is bringing forth John the Baptist, the herald of Christ, and Mary will give birth to Jesus, the Saviour of the world.

It fills me with wonder that Mary’s first instinct is to service. After hearing the news of Elizabeth’s conception she travels to be with her. It is a moment of recognition. The child in Elizabeth’s womb is filled with joy to be in the presence of the Saviour. Elizabeth herself is enthused as she greets her kinswoman. The Incarnate Word is present and already that presence is renewing the world

There is another level to this. Elisabeth ministers to Mary. She knows that God has done this marvelous thing, but others must have been mistrusting. Elizabeth gives Mary a haven, a secure home for a short while.

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