This post is the 3rd in our series on the Creed developing within Mary’s Intellect and Heart as the Christ Child develops within her womb. We turn now to the Visitation: Lk 1:39-55.
The Holy Spirit is extremely active during the various exchanges and actions when Mary (and Unborn Jesus) arrive at the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth and specifically when Mary greets Elizabeth (and Unborn John) and when Elizabeth responds. Luke tells us that “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.’” So, Elizabeth refers to Mary’s unborn child (about one week after conception) as “my Lord”. This is revelatory! Elizabeth has identified Unborn Jesus as Messiah and Lord, and Mary as the Messiah’s mother. Elizabeth states that it is a privilege to have the mother of the Messiah and Lord visit her.
What does Mary learn from Elizabeth’s inspired words? First, let it be said that everything about God is extremely personal. God is NOT distant, obtuse, detached from His Creation and creatures! He has become Incarnate. He has fulfilled what He promised. A week ago Gabriel said that Mary had “found favor with God” (Lk 1:30). Now Elizabeth is acknowledging that Mary has a special relationship with God and is blessed for believing “that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her”. This highlights Mary’s personal relationship with God. It is a beautiful relationship; alive in trust, bursting with expectation! Mary is being rewarded for obeying God and believing in the words spoken to her. This is God’s way of thanking Mary for accepting this motherhood of a Divine Person; the Son of God. So Mary sees and tastes the Goodness of God in the words of Elizabeth. This is living the Creed. The Creed in Mary’s heart says that “God is All Good, God is Most Faithful”. This belief drove her onward to Bethlehem, to Egypt, to Cana, to the foot of the cross, to the Upper Room and to Heaven.
But most of all, Mary hears her unborn child called “Lord”! She hears herself called “mother of (the) Lord”. These are titles, and offices. Elizabeth is testifying – albeit, indirectly – that Mary has been given a singular office by Almighty God; ‘mother of the Lord’. This is a sacred duty and obligation in service to the Mission of her Son (see prior post for Gabriel’s description of her Son). With the leaping of unborn John in his mother’s womb (caused by Unborn Jesus) and Elizabeth’s comments, Mary has now seen that her Son’s mission has already begun. She knows from firsthand experience that God is acting here and now, and that the Son of the Most High is the focal point of everything – she is her Son’s handmaiden.
The next 10 verses are Mary’s famous inspired response and are called the Magnificat for the opening line: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” Note the two words “Lord” and “Savior”. Incredibly, Mary is perceiving that these two titles, which she would have used in the past to describe the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, can now also be used to describe her (unborn) Son. This is a fundamental unfolding Revelation of the first order. Elizabeth used the word “Lord” and Mary responds using the same term. But she says “my soul magnifies the Lord” because He is within her, and she is reflective of His Presence as Elizabeth stated. Mary is inspired to use the term ‘Savior’ also. Mary is in a unique position, for when she speaks of God, she is speaking not only of her Creator Yahweh, but also of that Son growing within her. She is associating her Son with the term ‘Savior’, now pointing to the redemptive reality that is dawning upon Israel, twice referencing God’s mercy.
Mary’s Magnificat is centered upon the reality of God; referring at least 18 times to God (he, his, him, and so on). The last verse of the Magnificat recalls God’s relationship with Abraham. Mary is showing the continuity of God’s personal redemptive relationship with the people of Israel, and her Magnificat seems to recapitulate that historical relationship. Abraham was the Father of their faith – now Mary is the Mother of their Savior. She is discovering these truths of the Incarnation as she is living them (and she was inspired by the Holy Spirit as she gave voice to these truths). Her Magnificat offers a holy glimpse into the Creed that is taking hold of her heart, a unique Creed, a mixture of faith, hope, love and maternity – a tender personal Creed especially due to this fourth mentioned element; maternity. Every Christian can learn of this palpable Creed by sharing in Mary’s intimate perspective on her unborn Savior Son!
Our next post will consider the three months Mary (and Unborn Jesus) spent with Zechariah, Elizabeth (and unborn, then newborn John).
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