the Visitation

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Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus! This is Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary during the visitation. It was followed by the baby within her, John, leaping for joy.All of the contrasts of this story from the conception to the birth of Christ are notable, but with this first sentence Jesus is received as blessed. He is received by Elizabeth, a woman of the Old Testament, who waited patiently for the Lord. His entry into Elizabeth’s life is marked with Joy. That joy is both of Elizabeth and her Son John the Baptist who would continue to form that bridge between the Old and the New.While both Elizabeth, in her statement, and Mary’s proclamation at the Annunciation see a child as the Lord: I wonder how many of their contemporaries would recognize a child, and especially a child yet born, as a Lord and Savior? While Jesus was formed in Mary’s womb, can anyone help but see how this child was nourished by her? By nourished I mean not by food, but by the Spirit. The Holy Spirits action on Mary are hard to miss. While most young pregnant woman would have their mind focused on themselves and their child, Mary differs.From Jesus conception Mary’s first action is to reach out to others by making the journey to Judea to visit her cousin Elizabeth so that she might attend to her needs. Hers is that gift of the Holy Spirit, Charity. How important that grace will be throughout Jesus ministry. Easter concludes with Pentecost when the disciples “receive the Holy Spirit.” Is it difficult to see Mary receiving that spirit at the Annunciation and allowing it to work through her at the Visitation? Is it difficult to Elizabeth receive that same Spirit through the gift of Charity or Love, and for John to leap for joy in this Spirits presence. In this act of love that is the visitation, is it hard to hear the words “and God so loved the world, he sent his only Son?”

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