Reflecting on Luke 1: 39-56
Today’s Gospel, the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, tells us that Mary, a woman alone and with child, made a fifty-mile journey from Galilee to Ein Karem, in the hill country of Judea. Today a Catholic church stands at that site. Its many paintings depict Elizabeth and Mary, and other women of their time, as they went about the sacred business of keeping alive their religious traditions. I don’t think there is another church like it in the world.
When Mary, now the ark of the covenant, the carrier of the Savior, arrives at her cousin’s home, she sings her Magnificat. This suggests that what seems to be most on her mind, curiously, is not the news of her astonishing pregnancy, or even that of her aging cousin. Instead, she wants to talk about God’s power to lift up the lowly and to fill the hungry with good things.
It makes you wonder what she saw on that road as she traveled. Did she see widows and orphans crying for food, cast far away from the safety nets of husbands and fathers? Did she see the executed Jews, whom the Romans crucified along well-traveled paths as reminders of the “Pax Romana”?
When she arrived at her cousin’s, the unborn John sensed the presence of the true and only Prince of Peace. That six-month-old fetus was the first to recognize the Incarnation, traveling in the womb of his mother Mary. That should end any question of when life begins.
As the lovely Medical Missionaries’ hymn, The Visit, sings, There leaped a little child in the ancient womb. And there leaped a little hope in every ancient tomb. So beautiful.
What do you think the young Mary was thinking about as she traveled to see her cousin?
Kathy McGovern ©2021