Mary and Elizabeth

Luke 1: 39-56
Zep 3: 14-18a / Isa 12

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
(Luke 1:46)

Mary had endured much difficulty
If only to bring the Good News;
May her example of humility
Lead us to her Son, Christ Jesus.

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” And Mary said:”My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is His name. His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as He said to our fathers.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. (Luke 1: 39-56)

Reflection

St. Luke’s Gospel account relating the encounter of the Blessed Mother Mary and her cousin Elizabeth has provided us some of the richest reflections on the nature of our Lord’s mother and her relative, as well as the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of these two holy women. It also shows us the importance that St. Luke gave to the status of women in his Gospel account, which set him apart from the other Gospel writers Matthew, Mark and John.

Consider the wisdom of Elizabeth. When she heard Mary’s greeting, she was filled with the Holy Spirit, with the baby in her womb leaping for joy. Immediately she knew that Mary was the mother of the Lord, even though there was no way that she could have heard the news beforehand. We can only infer that this knowledge came from the Holy Spirit. Her words, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” set in stark contrast (as if in rebuke) the doubting words of her own husband Zechariah in verse 18: “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” Elizabeth’s wisdom is also matched by her humility. She deferred to her much younger cousin, saying, “But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Mary’s response to Elizabeth’s greeting is now enshrined as the Magnificat. It has inspired me to put her words into verse: “My soul proclaims the Lord’s greatness,/ My lips exult with words of praise, / He has shown me His great kindness, / And led me to this life of grace. The wonders of our Lord I’ve found, / The proud and haughty are debased, / The mighty He casts to the ground, / The humble to high honor raised.” Mary’s canticle is a manifestation of her humility and her perfect faith and trust in God. It is also a prophecy of how future Christians will be honoring her, especially in praying the holy rosary for her intercession (“all generations will call me blessed.”) Finally, in her words we find the perfect model of a true servant of God, with no fear or doubt in her heart, but only gratitude for all His kindness.

On this last day of the month of Mary, let us honor her by calling to mind all the wonders that our Lord has done for us, the blessings we now enjoy, the members of our family and true friends that we cherish, our resources and our talents and abilities. Let us take the time to enumerate these gifts from God and, like Mary, constantly give Him thanks and praise.

With Mary we proclaim Your wondrous deeds in our lives, Father God, and celebrate with joyous songs our salvation from our Savior. Thank You, Lord for all Your love and kindness, and the hope of eternal life in heaven. Amen.

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