Filled with the Holy Spirit

Luke 1:39-56
Rom 12: 9-16 / Isa 12

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
(Luke 1:41)

Nothing we do gains any merit,
God’s grace alone saves us from sin;
Pray and invoke the Holy Spirit,
That Christ may always live within.

During those days Mary set out and travelled to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she made haste to 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 the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!” 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, just as He promised our ancestors.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. (Luke 1:39-56)

Reflection

After hearing the message of the angel Gabriel, Mary wasted no time, and travelled to the rugged hill country of Judea to visit her aunt Elizabeth. It is not mentioned if she travelled alone or with a companion, but nonetheless, filled with the Holy Spirit, she was confident of the Spirit’s protection, that no harm could possibly happen to her on the long journey. Elizabeth, the second person in this Gospel account was also filled with the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, she would not have known that her niece was also pregnant with the Messiah of the world. The Spirit gave her this special knowledge. And her greeting has become the first part of the universal prayer to our Blessed Mother prayed by Catholics throughout the ages.

Lest we forget, there is a third person in this Gospel account of Luke who was also filled with the Holy Spirit. This was the baby, John the Baptist in his mother’s womb. When the Mother of his Savior entered their home, he “leaped for joy.” Joy is the most common sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life. In this passage, all the three persons were certainly exulting with joy. The Blessed Mother was especially exuberant when she exclaimed, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior!

Why did Mary stay with Elizabeth for three months? Most likely it was to help Elizabeth when the time came for her to give birth, as we are told she was 6 months pregnant at the time of Mary’s visit. But it was also because Mary needed the moral support and wise counsel of an elder relative, seeing as she was already pregnant before her formal marriage. For three months she was able to set aside any worry or anxiety, and simply enjoyed her sabbatical with the Holy Spirit in the company of her beloved aunt and mentor.

We all need to take time out from our daily grind and let the Holy Spirit “transform the renewal of our minds, that we may be able to discern the will of God in our lives, what is good, pleasing and perfect” (Rom.12:2). Joining a retreat or a Christian Life Program can be such a great blessing, especially when we experience the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” May we all be so favored by the joy of being filled by the Holy Spirit like Mary and Elizabeth.

Father God, with the Blessed Mother of Jesus, I pray “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” Grant, O Lord, that the Holy Spirit may always dwell in my heart, so that I may never conform to the ways of the world, but will always serve You faithfully, ever mindful of the sacrifices and promises of Your Beloved Son. Amen.

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