Mary visits Elizabeth

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila - The Freeman

It is now the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas is just a few days away. Today’s gospel reading comes from Luke 1:39-45, it is about our Blessed Virgin Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth because the Angel Gabriel told her she was six months pregnant.


“39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”


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For those of us who have visited the Holy Land, two of the most visited place for pilgrims is the house of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Nazareth and Ein Karem, the House of Zechariah in the hill country close to Jerusalem. One of the greatest blessings we encountered in Nazareth was we didn’t know that the tour bus could negotiate the church built to house the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary where the annunciation happened. With so many tour groups lining up, we had to climb the steep road leading to the church.

We got into the main door of the church but could not enter until the other groups exited. So we had to wait outside the main church. It was already 11:30 a.m. when we entered the church. The place where the annunciation happened was to the left of the main altar. By the time we prayed at its door, the bells of the church rang as it was already noon and the Angelus was prayed by the whole of Nazareth! What a great blessing for us.

Reading the passage of Luke, Mama Mary went to visit Elizabeth when the angel revealed to her that she was going to have a son. It turned out that Ein Karem was nearly a hundred kilometers from Nazareth and in those days, Mama Mary would have taken a caravan which would have taken at least three days to reach its destination. Today the tour bus reaches Ein Karen some two hours on a freeway.

In Ein Karen, as we learned from Luke who wrote: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” How could Elizabeth know the Blessed Virgin Mary was pregnant when she came to Ein Karen because she heard that Elizabeth was on the way? As St. Luke pointed out, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. So for sure, the Holy Spirit who impregnated her also told her about the divine maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and that her son, who was to be called John, would be the precursor to the Son of God whom the Blessed Virgin Mary was carrying.

During her stay in Ein Karem, both St. Elizabeth and the Blessed Virgin Mary recited the “Magnificat” the proper prayer for today. Allow me to repeat it here.

The Magnificat

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

the Almighty has done great things for me,

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

the promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children forever.

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For email responses to this article, write to [email protected]. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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