MY SOUL MANGNIFIES THE LORD
(A biblical reflection on the feast of THE VISITATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, 31 May 2011)
Gospel Reading: Lk 1:39-56
First Reading: Zeph 3:14-18 or Rom 12:9-16; Psalms: Is 12:2-6
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has regarded the low estate of His hand maiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm, He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home. (Lk 1:39-56 RSV)
It was remarkable that God chose to bring about His work of redemption through two human babies and their mothers. Jesus was still in Mary’s womb, yet in His presenceElizabethand her own unborn son, John, were filled with the Holy Spirit. This short but powerful scene gives us a glimpse of the forceful love of God, who simply cannot wait to pour out His life. What a foreshadowing this is of the glory of the risen Christ, who wants to pour out His Spirit on all people!
Elizabeth’s pure and humble response to the work of God in their lives must have brought great comfort to Mary. InElizabethshe finally found someone with whom she could share her joy and awe at what was happening in her. Who else at this time could understand the song welling up within Mary’s heart (Lk 1:46-56)? Rather than being jealous of her younger relative’s exalted position,Elizabethrejoiced with Mary and embraced her own supportive role. For her part, Mary did not wait forElizabethto come to her, but hastened to her side.
While this meeting between Mary and Elizabeth is unique, there is something here that we can all experience. As baptized believers, each of us is capable of bearing Christ to others. If our eyes were opened to the glory of this truth, we too would rejoice and be humbled in the presence of so holy a vessel as a sister or brother in Christ. Even non-believers would move us to great reverence because they too are created in God’s image and have just as much potential of being filled with the Holy Spirit. If God has so highly honored human beings this way, how could we fail to show them equal honor?
God used His Son, Jesus, even when He was just a fetus in the womb of Mary, to pour out divine life. Everyone, no matter how strong or weak, has been created as a dwelling place for God. So how can we long for God’s presence and yet disregard Him in the people all around us?
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, as You openedElizabeth’s eyes in the presence of Mary, so open our eyes to those who also bear Christ. Help us to honor the potential of each person to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jakarta, 31 May, 2011 [The Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary]
A Christian Pilgrim