‘The Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name.’


What is the significance of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus? When Elizabeth greeted Mary and recognized the Messiah in Mary’s womb they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise to give a Savior. What a marvelous wonder for God to fill not only Elizabeth’s heart with his Holy Spirit but the child in her womb as well. In today’s gospel we read that, Elizabeth’s infant son apparently knew something special was going on before the rest of them.
Little John, from the comfort of his womb-home, expressed delight at hearing Mary’s voice – even though he had never met her before. And he did so in a way that only his mother could understand. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leapt for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born. A visit from a relative, which might otherwise have been quite ordinary, turned out to be something extraordinary. A fulfillment of history – promises made long ago, as reported by Zephaniah – was being revealed in this ordinary setting. But a little baby, not yet even born, would know it first.

The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us. Mary was overflowing. At Mary’s greeting, “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit”. Even the baby in her womb jumped for joy and received the Holy Spirit. Mary was so overflowing with the Spirit she filled up anyone around who was open. After overflowing and filling two vessels, you’d think the flow would subside. With the Holy Spirit, however, the more you overflow, you overflow all the more. It’s like that water coming from the temple in Ezekiel. The farther the water flows, the higher it gets.

It is helpful to recall that we do not have a journalist’s account of this meeting. Rather, Luke, speaking for the Church, gives a prayerful poet’s rendition of the scene. Elizabeth’s praise of Mary as “the mother of my Lord” can be viewed as the earliest Church’s devotion to Mary. As with all authentic devotion to Mary, Elizabeth’s (the Church’s) words first praise God for what God has done to Mary. Only secondly does she praise Mary for trusting God’s words. Identifying this visit as ‘a prelude to Jesus’ mission’, Blessed John Paul II writes: ‘In cooperating from the beginning of her motherhood in the Son’s redeeming work, she becomes the model for those in the church who set out to bring Christ’s light and joy to the people of every time and place.’

With Mary, we pray with a grateful heart: ‘The Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name.’

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