The story of the Visitation is well known to us. Mary is promised a sign. The sign is that her cousin Elizabeth has already conceived and will bear a son. Is it any wonder that Mary went “as quickly as she could”? She wanted to check out the sign. She needed someone whom she could tell of the wonders within! What better than an old aunt, the wife of the High Priest. Her long journey to Jerusalem (about 70 miles) must have been a journey filled with questions, but driven by hope.
Note the sequence of events as recorded by Luke.
Mary goes into Zechariah’s house. She greets Elizabeth. As soon as Elizabeth hears Mary’s voice, the child in her womb leaps, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit.
Mary had no time to ask a question. Elizabeth’s greeting answers all her questions and confirms all the prophecies made to her. She is “blessed among women”, she is “the mother of my Lord”, and “blessed is the fruit of her womb”.
We honour Mary as the mother of the Lord. To be in her presence is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We acknowledge her privileged position as the mother. But Elizabeth turns our admiration to Mary’s faith as one who believes. “Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled”.
The two women meet. One is old, the other is young. The whole scene is permeated by the Holy Spirit. Both women are blessed. Elizabeth is filled with and inspired by the Holy Spirit. She is honoured with a visit from the mother of her Lord. What an affirmation for Mary. She is greeted as the mother of the Lord before she has time to say one word about her story. Elizabeth’s words of knowledge totally affirm the words of the angel: “Know this too: your cousin Elizabeth, in her old age, has herself conceived a son, and she whom people call barren is now in her sixth month”.
Mary is put before us in the Gospels as an obedient servant of the Lord. She is a model of faith and hope as attested by Elizabeth. She wisely sought to test the promises of the angel with practical haste. She wisely sought out aged advice and wisdom. Her faith moved her to believe promises.
Her life was not always one of celebration. There were many moments of pain and suffering. Like all of us she was called to believe, to walk in faith and hope. We acknowledge her faithfulness and have her as a model.