“Mondays with Mary” – The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth

Since this upcoming Thursday is the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (and my Mom’s Birthday), I wanted to briefly share with you a reflection on Mary and Elizabeth’s encounter as well as Mary’s Magnificat. This is a subject that I have written on numerous times over the 6 years of writing these weekly blog articles. Below you can read the previous articles on the Visitation.

After receiving the news from the Angel at the Annunciation that she would be the Mother of God, Mary quickly departs for the hill country, very similar to King David in the Old Testament, where she goes to serve her cousin, Elizabeth. Two major events of grace occur when she goes to Elizabeth. First, Elizabeth declares by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Mary is the Mother of her Lord and the child in womb (St. John the Baptist) leapt for joy. Second, the same Holy Spirit inspires Mary to declare her “Magnificat” or song of praise. A song of praise similar to that of Hannah’s hymn, a hymn that we believe Our Lady would have known by memory.

The two reflections below come from the Dictionary of Mary, a book that recently came into my possession. Next week, I will share with you the exciting news of this book and the other 33 books on Our Lady that are now part of my Marian library. I also have 20 or so more books on a wide variety of Catholic topics and theology. Come back next week and hear the story about these books – some that are so old they are no longer in print.

The first reflection on the Visitation is titled – “Blest Is She Who Trusted [Believed]…” –

At the same time, Elizabeth makes known to us the mystery of Mary and the basic reason why she is blessed. The mystery of Mary stems entirely from the privileged bond of her motherhood, which unites her with the “fruit of [her] womb” (Lk 1:42). To capture the spirit of Elizabeth’s greeting, the translation out to read: “Blest are you among women BECAUSE blest is the fruit of your womb.”  The blessedness, the holiness, of the Son is reflected in the Mother. Better still, the Son is cause of the Mother’s holiness. In the estimation of the Evangelists and the first Christians, there is not a more beautiful title for May this one: “Mother of Jesus” (cf. Jn 2:1), “Mother of my Lord.”

But it is a motherhood first received in faith. Mary is most of all believer, a woman who has given a total yes to God’s Word, unlike Zechariah who doubted.

It is this faith of Mary that Elizabeth extols: “Blest is she who trusted [believed] that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled” (Lk 1:45). Luke sees no opposition between Mary’s motherhood and her hearing the Word of God (cf. 11:27-28). On the contrary, he associates one with the other.

Visitation, Oil on Canvas. For more from Steve Bird, visit his website – http://www.stevebirdart.com

The second reflection on the Visitation is titled – Mary’s Thanksgiving

The scene of the Visitation is extended in Mary’s personal act of thanksgiving, the Magnificat. Mary gives her praise for the intervention of God, her Savior, in the stupendous motherhood that is coming to pass within her: “God who is mighty has done great things for me” (1:49).

But Mary’s vision does not stop at herself. It moves over the whole history of Israel, and her thanksgiving take on the accents of a whole people singing the great deeds of God. This woman, “blessed above all women” (cf. Jdt 13:18), belongs entirely to the history of Israel, the long line of men and women who have experienced the extolled the salvation of God. Like them, Mary sings praise to the God faithful to his Covenant, faithful to the Promise made the Fathers.

To learn more about Mary’s Magnificat, I would encourage you to read one of my very first “Mondays with Mary” here.

To read more about the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I would encourage you to check out the seven articles I have written previously –

“Mondays with Mary” – Pope Benedict on the ‘Visitation of Mary’

“Mondays with Mary” – St. Francis de Sales on the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Mondays with Mary” – The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Mondays with Mary”- The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Take 2

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Bringing Jesus to Others’ 

“Mondays with Mary” – The Visitation of Mary in Advent 

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary Greets Elizabeth  

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Old Testament: Among the “Poor of Yahweh” (Part 6)

After a couple of weeks focusing on other Marian topics, I want to turn my gaze back onto Mary in the Old Testament and focus on the Marian liturgical symbol – Among the “Poor of Yahweh”. Today’s blog post coincides perfectly with Saturday’s Solemnity of the Annunciation.

According to the Second Vatican Council document, Lumen Gentium, “She [Mary] stands out among the humble and the poor of the Lord, who confidently await and receive from him their salvation” (#55). Here the Council Fathers, with biblical recollection, focus on the “anawim” of God. They are considered the truest of the “poor of Yahweh” – the God-fearing and humble children of God who trust in the Lord to save them from the oppression of men. From these “anawim” come the poorest of the poor – the “remnant of Israel”, who will now form the chosen people of God. This chosen people will be lead by Christ and His Church on pilgrimage to the Kingdom of heaven.

Being the “handmaid of the Lord”, we know that the Blessed Virgin Mary is shown to us as being of a poor disposition. In her song of praise, the Magnificat, Mary includes herself in the humble and poor of the Lord – “he has looked upon the low estate of his handmaiden” (Lk 1:48) and “he has lifted up the lowly” (Lk 1:52).

The Annunciation – Henry Ossawa Tanner

Focusing on these words from the Sacred Scriptures, in the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Pope St. John Paul II, focuses on and asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary was undoubtedly saturated in the “poor of Yahweh.” In paragraph 37, John Paul II says,

“The Church’s love of preference for the poor is wonderfully inscribed in Mary’s Magnificat. The God of the Covenant, celebrated in the exultation of her spirit by the Virgin of Nazareth, is also he who “has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly, …filled the hungry with good things, sent the rich away empty, …scattered the proud-hearted…and his mercy is from age to age on those who fear him.” Mary is deeply imbued with the spirit of the “poor of Yahweh,” who in the prayer of the Psalms awaited from God their salvation, placing all their trust in him (cf. Pss. 25; 31; 35; 55). Mary truly proclaims the coming of the “Messiah of the poor” (cf. Is. 11:4; 61:1). Drawing from Mary’s heart, from the depth of her faith expressed in the words of the Magnificat, the Church renews ever more effectively in herself the awareness that the truth about God who saves, the truth about God who is the source of every gift, cannot be separated from the manifestation of his love of preference for the poor and humble, that love which, celebrated in the Magnificat, is later expressed in the words and works of Jesus.

The Church is thus aware-and at the present time this awareness is particularly vivid-not only that these two elements of the message contained in the Magnificat cannot be separated, but also that there is a duty to safeguard carefully the importance of “the poor” and of “the option in favor of the poor” in the word of the living God. These are matters and questions intimately connected with the Christian meaning of freedom and liberation. “Mary is totally dependent upon God and completely directed towards him, and at the side of her Son, she is the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe. It is to her as Mother and Model that the Church must look in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission.”

As we commemorate the fourth week of Lent, the fourth Sunday in Lent – Laetare Sunday, let us rejoice with the Heavenly Jerusalem that the Blessed Virgin Mary gives us hope, even in her poor disposition, that she is with us always and ready to lead us closer to her son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Source:

Burke, Raymond L., Stefano M. Manelli, Luigi Gambero, Manfred Hauke, Peter M. Fehlner, Arthur Burton. Calkins, Paul Haffner, Alessandro M. Apollonio, Edward P. Sri, Charles M. Mangan, Enrique Llamas Martínez, Neil J. Roy, Etienne Richer, Vladimir Zelinskiĩ, and Mark I. Miravalle. Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons. Goleta, CA: Queenship Pub, 2008. Print.