On September 8th, we celebrated the Nativity of Mary. On this occasion, I would like to share with you the significance of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. Even though this event took place thousands of years ago, we still continue to celebrate, because the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth was a joyful and unique event.
Mary from Nazareth, to visit Elizabeth in a Judean hilly place called Ein Karim, had to travel 80 miles distance. Most likely, she must have traveled on a donkey, without the comfort of paved roads. Such a long travel for a normal person would have been difficult; much worse must have been for a woman, carrying a child in her womb. Reflecting on the Visitation, Pope St. John Paul II said in 1997 during his Wednesday-General-Audience-homily that Mary has demonstrated the authentic charity. Some Catholic commentators affirmed that the purpose of Mary’s visit was to bring divine grace to both Elizabeth and her unborn child. The child in the womb of Elizabeth recognized the presence of Jesus in Mary and so the child, being filled with the divine grace, leaped for joy and was cleansed from original sin. Thus, Mary has become a mediatrix between God and man for the first time.
Elizabeth being filled with the Holy Spirit, recognized that Mary was chosen for a special purpose and so, she declared her as the most blessed among women. Those of us, who are familiar with the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we know that in one of the invocations we address Mary as the “Ark of the covenant”. In the Bible “Ark of the Covenant” is a symbol of God’s presence. In the Visitation, Elizabeth understood that she was honored by the visit of Mary; so, she exclaimed: “Any why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43). Mary brought Christ to Elizabeth and she in turn, recognized Mary’s role as the mediatrix proclaiming: “For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy” (Luke 1:44).
Let the power of the Most High, that filled Mary’s heart, be in each one of us, so that we too may proclaim the greatness of the Lord and rejoice in him, as Elizabeth and the babe in her womb rejoiced.
Mary pray for us
Fr. Arul Joseph V.