We’re fortunate these last days of Advent to read St. Luke’s entire Infancy Narrative with its rich description of the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Jesus.
Today Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth after the angel’s great announcement. She travels to the hill country, to a town of Judah “in haste,” Luke says. She goes “in haste” not in panic or fear. She visits Elizabeth to share the mysterious gift of God, hastening for joy. The Visitation is one of the joyful mysteries of the rosary.
In the first reading for Mass today Mary speaks to the Child in her womb in the joyful words of the Song of Songs:
“Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one,
“For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
“O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely.”
As they come together to share what they have been given, Mary and Elizabeth are believers, rejoicing. “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled,” Elizabeth says to Mary.
The two women tell us about faith in their simple meeting. Faith is something to rejoice in. It’s meant to be shared and shared eagerly. The two women are pregnant and don’t yet see the life they carry within them. Like faith, the life within them is hidden from their eyes. And so it is with us.
Their meeting is a communion of saints. They share gifts of God not yet seen.
“The women speak of the grace they received,” St. Ambrose says, “ while the children are active in secret, unfolding the mystery of love…” As the women speak to each other, another meeting goes on within them as the infants in their wombs meet.
Is that true with us too? God works within us, beyond our understanding, as we live by faith. “Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith,” St. Ambrose says, “You also are blessed because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God… Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord.”