Mary “traveled to the hill country in haste” (Lk 1:39) and as she drew close and called out to announce her arrival: Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, [and] 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” (Lk 1:41-42). This is an encounter of joy. Elizabeth’s response is a confirmation to Mary’s yes to the angel Gabriel, that she has indeed conceived in her womb the Son of God who was taking on flesh and becoming one of us, a human being, as she traveled to the hill country. Elizabeth’s son recognized him, and in leaping with joy, helped to get the celebration started!
The encounter and interaction between Mary and Elizabeth, Jesus and John, at the Visitation is a model for us of discipleship. Touched by the Holy Spirit we are to go out to share the Good News that God our Father loved us so much that he sent his Son to be one with us. He was willing to enter into our humanity. Some of the earliest heresies in the Church, which are still perpetuated today, were birthed because of an unwillingness to accept this gift, that God entered into and embraced our humanity, that God would become human was and is inconceivable. Yes, we have been wounded by sin, but we have not been destroyed. The coming of the Son of God as one of us is an opportunity to be healed, to be born again from above, and this can happen through the same love of the Holy Spirit that inspired John to leap and Elizabeth to rejoice.
May we resist the mind noise from within, and without from other people who tell us overtly and/or covertly that we are worthless or nothing. Not true! Through our very being, we are created in the image and likeness of God, we have been created by Love, to receive and to share love. We are a living craving hunger and desire to be in communion with God and one another. This is true for the atheist and the believer alike. We are called to will the good of the other as other as they are, unconditionally. If we have fallen short, a little or a lot, in the way we have been treating ourselves or others lately, today is a new day to take Jesus’ hand and begin anew. Let us celebrate with Jesus, Mary, Elizabeth and John.
We are celebrating that Jesus was born for us, he lived that we might not only be shown a better way, but know that he is the Way. Jesus became vulnerable for us, a key ingredient in unconditional love: to be willing to risk being authentic to who God called him to be, even to being willing to be rejected, even if that meant that all might walk away from him. May we be willing to be vulnerable, to risk, to share with others who we are, free of masks and pretense. May we be present to, and also walk and accompany one another. Being there for our family and friends is important, and if we take our Christianity seriously, we must come to acknowledge, in concrete ways, person to person, that we are all brothers and sisters, that in Christ we are all related.