In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and 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.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior. – Luke 1:39-47
We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God; Despise not our prayers in our necessities, But ever deliver us from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
Mary, carrying the eternal Son of God in her womb, went with haste to visit her aged relative, Elizabeth, and her husband, Zechariah. The Angel Gabriel had told Mary that Elizabeth was also pregnant: Behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing is impossible (Luke 1: 36-37). St. Luke, it would seem, saw 2 Samuel 6, the Old Testament account of King David’s transfer of the Ark of the Covenant from the from the hill country of Judah to Jerusalem, fulfilled in the Visitation account. St. Luke’s intention was to present Mary, making the journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth, as the true Ark of the Covenant – the new dwelling place of God among his people. Here are some points of comparison: When Jewish people came into the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, they would let out a joyful shout, a certain holy noise reserved exclusively to honor God’s presence in the Ark. When Mary entered her kinswoman’s house and greeted her, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry. Elizabeth used almost the exact words that King David had used when he realized the significance of the Ark coming to his house: And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Finally, whereas David danced and leaped before the old Ark of the Covenant, it was John the Baptist in his mother’s womb who danced and leaped before the presence of God in his new Ark of the Covenant, Mary! This text casts brilliant light on the meaning of the Annunciation and Mary’s fiat. Through Mary’s assent of faith to the word of the Angel, the eternal Son of God came down from Heaven to dwell in her womb. The Ark of the Covenant constructed at God’s command by Moses and Aaron is only a type – a foreshadowing of Mary, the true dwelling place of God. Elizabeth, Zechariah, and the unborn John the Baptist are blessed by Jesus living in Mary. Elizabeth blessed Son and Mother three times: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Almighty and Ever-Living God, the Virgin Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant. During the nine months of her pregnancy, she carried your Son-made-man in her virginal womb. From his Royal Throne, Christ began to bring his people salvation. After his birth, which did not diminish His mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it, he continued to dwell in Mary through grace and charity with an unparalleled intensity. Father, we beg you to send Mary to visit the United States, calling all to faith in Christ’s Gospel of Life and conversion from sin. May she help all to understand that her conception of Christ in Nazareth, and her wondrous childbirth in Bethlehem, point to the inviolable sanctity of every conception and birth. May she help those women who have had abortions to find God’s forgiveness and healing. Father, turn the hearts of all advocates of contraception and abortion to Christ, the Lord of Life. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.