A reading from the gospel according to Luke 1:39-56
39 Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,
40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
42 cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
43 And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
45 Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
46 And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
47 my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
48 for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed:
49 the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name.
50 He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
51 He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
52 He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
55 the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.”
56 Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Good News: God remembers His Promise of mercy.
Our reading today is about the meeting of two women, both pregnant, blessed and full of joy. Mary with Jesus in her womb visited her cousin Elizabeth who was six month pregnant of John. As soon as the latter saw the former, the human beings inside them also met and made their presence felt. Elizabeth then exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women”. For her part, Mary sang her famous canticle where he extolled God’s great deeds and mercy most especially for lowly people.
The gospel describes Mary’s travel to be “in haste”. Let us call to mind that this passage of Luke follows immediately the annunciation of Mary’s own pregnancy by the angel Gabriel. Most probably, she was “in haste” because she was so excited to see the miracle of Elizabeth’s conceiving of a child in old age and also to tell her about her own pregnancy. Most likely too, she wanted to be at Elizabeth’s side to give help because of the latter’s situation.
What is significant in the story above is work of the Holy Spirit. When Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, she was able to recognize that Mary would be the Mother of her Lord. Indeed, it is only with the help of the Holy Spirit that we are able to discern what is hidden to others.
Let us now turn to Mary’s Magnificat. The song itself is pregnant with deep reflection of God’s characteristics.
First, she praises God’s mighty deeds in her life. All generation from then on will call her blessed because God picked her to be the mother of His only Son who would do the mightiest deed ever, the redemption of humanity.
Second, she glorifies God’s mercy to lowly people like herself. God will lift up those who are cast down and He will overthrow the conceited and the arrogant. He will feed the hungry and help the servants.
Third, she mentions that God will forever remember His promise to Abraham and his children. In Genesis 12:1-3, God promised to bless Abraham and all of his descendants. As believers in Jesus, we become the descendants of Abraham by faith and the heirs of God’s promise. (Galatians 3:29) Thus, God’s blessing, as promised to Abraham, is upon us. That is, if we belong to Christ.
Dear Jesus, please send forth your Holy Spirit to strengthen us and to enlighten us that we may discern your message in our particular situation today. Amen.
See also: Matthew 19:13-15 Reflection