The Archangel Gabriel, at the time of the Annunciation, informed the Mother of God that Her cousin Elizabeth had miraculously conceived and was soon to be the mother of a son, the destined precursor of the Messiah. The Blessed Virgin in Her humility concealed the wonderful dignity to which She Herself was raised, through the Incarnation of the Son of God in Her womb, but in the transport of Her holy joy and gratitude, determined to go to congratulate and assist the mother of the Baptist. “Mary therefore arose” Saint Luke says, “and with haste went into the hill country into a city of Judea, and entering into the house of Zachary, greeted Elizabeth.”
What a blessing did the presence of the God-Man bring to this house, the first which He in His humanity honored with His visit! But it is Mary who is the instrument and means by which He imparts His divine blessing. He intends to show us that She is the channel through which He delights to communicate to us His graces, and encourages us to ask them of Him through Her intercession.
At the voice of the Mother of God, by the power and grace of Her divine Son in Her womb, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit; and the infant in her womb, sanctified at that moment, conceived so great a joy as to leap and exult. By the infused light of the Spirit of God Elizabeth understood the great mystery of the Incarnation which God had wrought in Mary, whose humility prevented Her from disclosing it, even to a Saint and an intimate friend. In raptures of astonishment Elizabeth pronounced Mary blessed above all other women, and cried out, “How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” The Virgin, hearing Her own praise, sank yet lower in the abyss of Her nothingness, and melting in an ecstasy of love and gratitude to God, She burst into Her admirable canticle, the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and My spirit rejoices in God, My Saviour.” What marvels of grace and light God reveals to us in the souls of His Saints! Mary stayed with Her cousin almost three months, after which She returned to Nazareth.
Reflection: While with the Church we praise God for the mercies and wonders which He wrought in this mystery, we must apply ourselves to imitating the virtues of which Mary sets us a perfect example. Let us pay particular attention to our visits and conversation, acts which are to many Christians the sources of innumerable dangers and sins. Let us meditate on the holy conversations of the cousins, and the services Mary rendered to Elizabeth, and think how we may imitate Her prudent charity.
Source: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).