– Fourth week of Advent –
‘Why has this happened to me that the mother of my Lord comes to me?’ [Luke 1:43]
In today’s passage, we contemplate the Visitation; the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Two pregnant women come together, one young and in trepidation at the enormity of what she has said ‘yes’ to, and the other overjoyed that God’s promise is growing inside her swollen belly for all to see. No longer does she need to endure the pitying glances of her village, her family, her friends, for God has given her a longed-for son, whom Zechariah will be instructed to call John.
When the angel left her, Mary, in haste, flees to the older and wiser woman when she hears the amazing news of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Elizabeth’s joyful greeting has inspired generations of believers: ‘Why has the mother of my Lord come to me?’ Luke brings together these two individuals, both of whom have had an encounter with the Divine that they only partly understand. Their shared experience, each with a part of the story, becomes community experience and in the process finds full meaning.
Mary finds hospitality, welcome, comfort and support in the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth, full of the Holy Spirit, recognises the presence of the Saviour in Mary’s womb, and her child, John, leaps in recognition also. Mary believed in the angel’s message concerning herself and in the further sign regarding her cousin, so she sets out in faith on her journey and Elizabeth pronounces her ‘blessed among all women’. The two women and the two stories come together and faith overflows in knowledge, testimony and celebration. No shadow of the violence that will claim their sons’ lives is present in this joyful celebration of life and love and the workings of God.
Elizabeth is the first in a long line of characters in Luke’s Gospel who give hospitality to Jesus, only to find themselves drawn into the hospitality of God. These two faithful women, humble and accepting of all that God promises, are models of discipleship for all believers to emulate, so that all may say ‘I am the servant of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me’ (Luke 1:38).
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! Help us to recognise your presence in our midst and be willing to offer you warmth, comfort and safe shelter.
By Carole Danby