MARY VISITS HER RELATIVE ELIZABETH
After the angel Gabriel tells the young woman Mary that she will bear a son who will be named Jesus and who will rule as King forever, Mary asks: “How is this to be, since I am not having sexual relations with a man?”
“Holy spirit will come upon you,” Gabriel answers, “and power of the Most High will overshadow you. And for that reason the one who is born will be called holy, God’s Son.”
Perhaps to help Mary accept his message, Gabriel adds: “Look! Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son, in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her, the so-called barren woman; for no declaration will be impossible for God.”
Mary accepts what Gabriel has said, as we see from her response. “Look! Jehovah’s slave girl!” she exclaims. “May it happen to me according to your declaration.”
Once Gabriel leaves, Mary prepares to visit Elizabeth, who lives with her husband, Zechariah, near Jerusalem in the Judean hillside. From Mary’s home up in Nazareth, this is a trip that might take three or four days.
Mary finally arrives at Zechariah’s house. As she enters, she greets her relative Elizabeth. At that, Elizabeth is filled with holy spirit, and she says to Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruitage of your womb! So how is it that this privilege is mine, to have the mother of my Lord come to me? For look! as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”
Mary then responds with heartfelt gratitude: “My soul magnifies Jehovah, and my spirit cannot keep from being overjoyed at God my Savior, because he has looked upon the low position of his slave girl. For look! from now on all generations will declare me happy, because the powerful One has done great deeds for me.” We can note that despite the favor she is shown, Mary directs all honor to God. “Holy is his name,” she says, “and for generation after generation his mercy is upon those who fear him.”
In inspired prophetic words, Mary continues to praise God, saying: “He has acted mightily with his arm; he has scattered those who are haughty in the intention of their hearts. He has brought down powerful men from thrones and has exalted lowly ones; he has fully satisfied hungry ones with good things and has sent away empty-handed those who had wealth. He has come to the aid of Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, just as he spoke to our forefathers, to Abraham and to his offspring, forever.”
For about three months, Mary stays with Elizabeth, likely being of assistance during these final weeks of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. How fine it is that these two faithful women, both carrying a child with God’s help, can be together during this time in their lives!
And take note of the honor that Jesus was paid even before he was born. Elizabeth called him “my Lord,” and the child in her womb “leaped for joy” when Mary first appeared. That is so different from how others later treat Mary and her yet-to-be-born child, as we shall see.