The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Father in heaven, by whose grace the virgin mother of thine incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping thy word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to thy will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
– Collect for The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Book of Common Prayer
Soon after the Annunciation, “Mary went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country” (Luke 1:39). Having learned from the angel about Elizabeth’s pregnancy and moved by charity, she hurries to help with her household chores. Nobody obliges Mary to go. God, through the angel, hadn’t asked her; nor did Elizabeth seek help. Mary could have stayed to prepare for her Son’s arrival.
After a hard 4-5 days journey, on entering Zechariah’s house Mary greeted Elizabeth. Filled with the Holy Spirit, she replied, “Why must I be honored with the visit of the mother of my Lord? … when your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy”. (Luke 1:42-43)
Elizabeth calls her blessed and explains why. In the ‘Hail, Mary’ do these words excite us with the same joy? As an aspiration they can unite us to her while working or walking on the street; whenever we see her image.
Today we learn once more that each encounter with Mary implies a new discovery of Jesus. If you seek Mary, you will find Jesus. And you will learn a bit more about what is in the heart of a God who humbles himself and makes himself accessible amidst the routines of ordinary life.
The mystery of the Visitation is one of joy. John the Baptist stirs exultantly in his mother’s womb. We perceive the true significance of the secret Mary treasured in her heart. This great mystery finds its purest expression in the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” They are simple words but full of nobility and of intimate union with the Creator, a perfect mirror of the Theotokos’ soul.
From earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title, Theotokos, or ‘Mother of God’, in veneration and love according to her prophetic words: “All generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me.”