Recently, you may remember, I preached on The Incarnation of Jesus Christ as the Prime Holy Mystery. Today I shall add to that the additional mystery of the relationship between Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.
The Gospel reading tells us that at a certain point, six months after the Angel Gabriel had made his announcement to Mary, she “set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
The Bible tells us that Mary set out with haste to go to Zechariah’s house in the Judean hill country to visit her cousin Elizabeth. We know that most people travelled in those days by foot. What we don’t know is where she was starting from, and how long it would have taken her. Do we really need to understand that?
I visited Ein Kerem, the site of Zechariah’s house, 12 years ago. I recall that it took the bus from St. George’s College about an hour. We went down one of the valleys descending S.W. from Jerusalem, flanked by beautiful wooded hillsides. It would not have been an easy journey for Mary to make on foot.
The Gospel account tells us that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb for joy. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and exclaimed with joy.
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Lk. 1:41-42)
Those words of Elizabeth were immediately followed by Mary’s song of joy, The Magnificat, as a response to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth’s words followed by Mary’s words point us to the Holy Mystery of the Incarnation. At the same time they also show us something of the mystery that is the relationship between the two cousins.
As you reflect on this encounter between the two cousins, Mary and Elizabeth, do you find joy in your heart? Do you desire a deeper understanding of these mysteries?
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