The Fourth Sunday of Advent’s Gospel was the account of the Visitation, Mary making haste to go up into the hill country to her cousin Elizabeth’s house.
I was blessed to be able to listen to two homilies from both our pastors who shared excellent thoughts on this bible passage. Besides this, I did research for the reflection given at the nursing home where I shared the Word and Holy Communication.
This passage happens right after we read of the angel coming to Mary with the announcement Mary is to bear the Son of God. Mary says she is the handmaiden of the Lord. We know Elizabeth was surprised as she heard Mary’s greeting and John in her womb leaped for joy. Can you just imagine what an amazing meeting as the mother of the Messiah approaches the mother of the Forerunner? These two women make quite the pair. First, one is too old to be pregnant, then the other is a pregnant virgin yet each in their own way will change the history of the world forever.
Mary was two to three months pregnant. She probably had morning sickness and not really feeling up to make haste to anywhere let alone into the hill country. This trip was not an easy one. The route was nothing more than a dirt path. Elizabeth’s village was roughly 100 miles away from Nazareth where Mary lived. Elizabeth’s village is about 2,474 feet above sea level, while Nazareth is at 1,138 feet. This means Mary had to travel uphill nearly 1,336 feet in elevation!
Joseph, most likely, would have gone with Mary to protect her on the way because the route was not a safe one. Robbers and bandits hid in the rocks and cervices to rob travelers.
As soon as Elizabeth, who is six or seven months pregnant heard Mary’s greetings, Elizabeth gave a glad cry and said, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.” Even before Mary had said a word about having a child, Elizabeth knew it and she knew that the child was going to be a very special child! “Why am I so blessed that the mother of my Lord would visit me?” Elizabeth said. “You are a blessed woman because you have believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
Father Craig started by saying Mary is bringing the very presence of God to Elizabeth. How she was the new the Ark of the Convent. In the gospel, Luke wanted to show his audience the tie in with the Old Testament to the New Testament. In 2 Samuel, we read about King David, and he acted much like Elizabeth as the Arc of the Convent approached. The Arc was taken in haste to the hill country. “Dressed as a priest, King David danced and leaped for joy as the ark approached.” David cries out, “Who am I that my Lord comes to me.” In the Arc of the Covent, there were three things, the Ten Commandments, the Word of God, the staff of Aaron, the first high priest, and a bit of Mana, the food from God. All of these three things are in Jesus the Son of God, which Mary is carrying in her body.
Father Craig asked each of us to think about how we are bringing Jesus to those around us this Christmas season.
Father Reker talked about Mary going to see Elizabeth. Two rather simple women and yet God chose one to carry John the Baptist, teller of the coming of Jesus. The other woman to bear His own Son. Father asked us to ponder about important Visitations we have experienced in our lives. He went to ask us to think about how we can prepare our hearts this Advent season to be open to God’s working in our lives.
What visitations have you experienced in your life? What did you learn from these visitations to be ready to bring Jesus to your family and friends in the coming days? I pray God surprises each of us in ways we could never imagine shining the love and light of the babe Jesus, who is Emmanuel, God with us forever!