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Mary visits Elizabeth

Gospel Reading: Lk 1:39-56
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

Some Bible scholars see in the Visitation story an allusion to the Virgin Mary as the “Ark of the Covenant,” one of the many titles in her litany. Given Luke’s propensity for symbolism and allusion, this may not altogether be farfetched. Can Luke be alluding to the story of David bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem?

David and all the Israelites brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts of joy (cf 1 Sm 6:15). Some verses earlier, he had expressed his fear and unworthiness by saying, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (1 Sm 6:9). There are verbal similarities to the narrative of Luke. And if, in former times, the Shekinah or the presence of the Lord was “contained” in the ark, now the new ark is the womb of the Virgin Mary, containing God’s permanent presence among his people: the Word-made-flesh.

Joy and gladness because of the Lord’s visitation: we are reminded of it by the Preface of John the Baptist in the Mass: “His birth brought great rejoicing; even in the womb he leapt for joy, so near was man’s salvation.” In the ancient world, the coming of a great ruler brought rejoicing to the populace. Rome grandiosely proclaimed September 23, the birthday of Emperor Augustus: “the birthday of the god marked the beginning of the good news for the world.”

Luke contradicts this propaganda by saying that it is the coming of Jesus that is the real good news and the cause of true joy. The Baptist feels it while still in the womb.

Does your visit bring joy to people?

Are you happy to receive visitors? Why?

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.