The Visitation

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 with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.
(Luke 1:39-56)

Scripture Study

1:41 leaped in her womb: Elizabeth’s experience parallels that of Rebekah in Gen 25. ● Both Luke and the Greek OT use the same verb (Gk. skirtaō) to describe children leaping or stirring in the womb. As Rebekah’s experience signaled the preeminence of Jacob over his older brother Esau (Gen 25:22–23), so the similar experience of Elizabeth was a sign that Jesus would be greater than his older cousin John (3:16; Jn 3:27–30).

1:42 Blessed are you: Elizabeth blesses Mary with words once spoken to Jael and Judith in the OT (Judg 5:24–27; Jud 13:18). ● These women were blessed for their heroic faith and courage in warding off enemy armies hostile to Israel. Victory was assured when both Jael and Judith assassinated the opposing military commanders with a mortal blow to the head. Mary will follow in their footsteps, yet in her case both the enemy destroyed and the victory won will be greater, for she will bear the Savior who crushes the head of sin, death, and the devil underfoot (Gen 3:15; 1 Jn 3:8) (CCC 64, 489).

1:43 mother of my Lord: This title reveals the twin mysteries of Jesus’ divinity and Mary’s divine maternity (CCC 449, 495). Note that every occurrence of the word Lord in the immediate (1:45) and surrounding context refers to God (1:28, 32, 38, 46, 58, 68). ● Mary’s divine motherhood was the first Marian dogma expounded by the Church. The Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (a.d. 431) defined her unique relationship to Christ and honored her with the title “Mother of God” (Gk. Theotokos). This was reaffirmed in 1964 at Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, 53).

1:46–55 The Magnificat (Latin for “magnifies”) is a hymn of praise and a recital of God’s covenant faithfulness. Mary extols humility (1:48) and rejoices in God’s blessings on the lowly (1:47, 52–53). The song also introduces the theme of God’s “mercy” (1:50, 54), which flows into the following episode (1:58, 72, 78) (CCC 2097, 2619). ● The Magnificat is imbued with themes and imagery from the OT. It closely resembles the Song of Hannah in 1 Sam 2:1–10, while other passages illumine the background (Ps 89:10, 13; 98:3; 111:9; Sir 33:12; Hab 3:18).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel recounts the story of Mary’s visitation to her cousin, Elizabeth. Upon hearing the message of Gabriel concerning her own pregnancy and that of her cousin, Mary “proceeded in haste into the hill country of Judah” to see Elizabeth. Why did she go with such speed and purpose? Because she had found her mission, her role in the Theo-drama.

The Theo-drama is the great story being told by God, the great play we all find ourselves in. What makes life thrilling is to discover your role in it. This is precisely what has happened to Mary. She has found her role—indeed a climactic role—in the Theo-drama, and she wants to conspire with Elizabeth, who has also discovered her role in the same drama.

Mary recapitulates the story of Israel, the story of redemption. We can, as it were, read the whole Old Testament in her: “He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.”

– Bishop Robert Barron

 May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.