"My Soul magnifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior"
Reflecting on the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the little virgin from Nazareth begins to grow overwhelmingly in our eyes. We see the obedience of Mary! At the Annunciation, recognizing the Angel as a messenger of God, she had said yes to bearing the Son of God. When the Angel Gabriel told her that her cousin Elizabeth was with child, she trusted in his word knowing he was from God. Because she, like the other people of Israel, had been preparing for the Messiah, and had studied the Word, she knew the Lord would have wanted her to go and serve her cousin; and so she obeyed, once more. As we walk through the rose petals that make up the Rosary, we will encounter the many times Mary obeyed. As we learn more about Jesus, we realize that His Life was our path to Heaven. As you walk with Mary, you will discover she knows the way.
We see the selflessness of Mary in action. Her choice to be for her cousin Elizabeth during her pregnancy, shows an unconditional caring for others, that we've only seen in One other Person in the history of the world, her Son Jesus.
But, there was something else. Although there was a familial bond between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, we believe there was another bond, which had been molded in Heaven. The plan to have the Angel tell Mary of her cousin's pregnancy had to begin in Heaven. Can we not see God formulating His plan? The son of Elizabeth would be the one who would herald the Messiah, the Son of Mary, into the world.
Neither of these women should have been pregnant. Mary was a virgin; Elizabeth was barren. There had to be a Heavenly connection between them. Is this why the Angel told Mary about her cousin being "with child"? Did the Lord want her to go and serve her cousin Elizabeth? Were she and Elizabeth part of a particular plan of the Father's? Had an Angel told Elizabeth, when she conceived, that her child would be special, too? Were these things going through Mary's mind, as she proceeded on her appointed mission?
When we see statues or paintings of Mary, for the most part, they depict a very delicate, almost dresden-like Mary. And I am sure, she had all those qualities. But Mother Mary was also strong! We will see, as we journey in faith with her and her Son through the Rosary, how very strong she was. The trip from Nazareth to Ein Karem, where Elizabeth and Zechariah lived, was long and dangerous. Mary had to travel through the mountains of Judea, past Jerusalem. Today, it is a challenge. In the time of Jesus and Mary, with dirt roads, cut out by people travelling by donkey or by foot, it had to be hazardous for someone with child. But Mary did not think, for one moment, about her comfort. The Angel had told her of her cousin's need and she said yes, one more time.
There was a radiance about Mary as she travelled to her cousin's house. The words of the Angel echoed in her soul:
"Do not fear, Mary. You have found favor with God. You shall conceive and bear a Son and give Him the name Jesus.....He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and His reign will have no end....The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the Power of the Most High will overshadow you; hence, the holy offspring to be born will be called Son of God." (Luke 1:30)
Mary proceeded, in haste, to fulfill the Angel's command, never once looking back. The Angel had told her not to be afraid. (In Holy Scripture, the Lord tells us not to be afraid 365 times, once for every day of our year.) And she trusted his message, knowing it was from the Lord. Mary believed, the Lord would take care of her and her unborn Child. She knew that the Child she was carrying, had the special protection of the Father's "Heavenly Army of Angels." (For more about the Angels and their place in the life of Jesus and Mary, read Bob and Penny Lord's book: "Heavenly Army of Angels".) What then was there to fear?
Son of God! She couldn't get these words out of her mind. Her senses reeled at the thought. She was to be the mother of the Son of God. It was incredible! She was carrying God inside her body. What would He be like? How would their life together, be?
As soon as Elizabeth saw her, "the baby leapt in her womb. She was filled with the Holy Spirit." This was to fulfill the prophecy the Angel Gabriel gave to Zechariah,
"...and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb." (Luke 1:15)
Tradition tells us that, at this meeting with Jesus, while both were still in their mothers' wombs, John was freed from original sin. While he was conceived with sin, we are told he was born without sin.
There was immediate recognition between the two unborn babies, John and Jesus. A bond between the two children, conceived in Heaven before the dawn of creation, was affirmed at this meeting, and further confirmed at the Jordan River some thirty years later. Thus did Jesus say of John, "In truth I tell you, of all the children born to women, there has never been anyone greater than John the Baptist." (Matt 11:11)
A similar bond was forged between Mary and Elizabeth. The skies opened; the brilliance of the Holy Spirit descended on both women. It was as if Mary and Elizabeth were given total knowledge of God's plan, through the movement of the Spirit. Whatever had not been revealed to them before, suddenly became crystal clear. Elizabeth cried out in a loud voice:
"Blest are you among women and blest is the fruit of your womb. But who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby leapt in my womb for joy. Blest is she who trusted that the Lord's words to her would be fulfilled." (Luke 1:42-45)
There is so much in this statement of Elizabeth's. Scripture scholars tell us that Elizabeth's meaning in her first sentence was: "Blest are you among women" because "blest is the Fruit of your womb". With this declaration, Elizabeth prophesied Mary's future role in the world, and in the Church, that Mary would be blessed among all women. It is true that Mary said yes to the Angel Gabriel. But, it was by the Fruit of her womb, she was blessed among all women. Mother Mary will tell you that, of herself, she is nothing. She always points to her Son. She is the intercessor to her Son; she is not the One Who brings about miracles, Who heals, Who forgives, Who gives us life. She points to her Son. A priest once said, "What did Mother Mary do? She stood there and allowed the Holy Spirit to fill her. And because of this, the world will never be the same." One name that our Mother appeared under, was "Our Lady of Hope". (Our Lady of Pontmain, France is known as Our Lady of Hope. More about this apparition and others that our Lady has made, are in Bob and Penny Lord's book: The Many Faces of Mary, a love story.) She is our Mother who turns to her Son Jesus, and through His love for her, we have hope that He will give us another chance. Like Abraham and Moses, she is always asking for another chance for her children, you and me.
Mary was blessed because of the Fruit she carried within her, under her heart. Do you think blessedness is impossible for you and me? Do we not carry the Fruit of Mary's womb under our heart after we have received the Eucharist? After the Holy Spirit hovered over Mary and she conceived the Lord, change came about. Mary felt it; Elizabeth saw it; Mary was in Communion with the Lord within her. At Mass, the Holy Spirit descends upon bread and wine, and through the Priest's anointed hands, the Lord comes to us; He comes to be in Communion with us through His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. And a bond is made between us and the Fruit of Mary's womb.
Elizabeth was the very first human to call Mary the Mother of God: "But who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" She knew! This could not have come from human reasoning; only the Holy Spirit could have given her this wisdom. Mary's heart must have jumped when she heard those words. But think of it, for the last 2000 years, the Mother of God has been coming to us, through her apparitions. Do we ask with Elizabeth: "But who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?"
Mary visited Elizabeth because the Angel Gabriel told her Elizabeth was with child. Elizabeth needed Mary and she responded to that need. Mother Mary has been responding to our needs for 2000 years. Do we, as Elizabeth, before us, accept the love and compassion of our Lady? Do we recognize her and revere her as the Mother of God? Do we defend her when she is maligned? Is she our Mother? In Guadalupe, she said: "Am I not here who am your Mother?" Well, is she our Mother? Do we share her with those who do not know who she is? Or are we afraid of what they will think? Are we more polite than holy?
The next words, we hear in Holy Scripture, are a confirmation of the Angel's words to Mary, "Blest is she who trusted that the Lord's words to her would be fulfilled." (Luke 1:45) Elizabeth confirmed, the Son of God was present in Mary's womb. Everything the Angel had told Mary had come to pass. Elizabeth knew all about it. Mary's soul soared to the heights of Heaven. She was filled beyond the boundaries of humanity. Her face flushed; her eyes beamed. Every part of her body was raised heavenward. She proclaimed her Magnificat. We are gifted to see the full blown image of Mary, filled with the Holy Spirit, as she proclaims in words, what has been in her heart, bursting to come out. With Mary, we proclaim her Magnificat:
"My soul magnifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
For He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
Behold, henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed;
For He who is Mighty has done great things for me,
and Holy is His Name;
His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His Arm,
He has scattered the proud in the deceit of their heart,
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has received Israel, His servant,
being mindful of His mercy.
Even as He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever." (Luke 1:46-55)
We can visualize the Angels surrounding Mary, their Queen, as she made her pronouncement, guarding her, hugging her with their wings, loving her. If we look with the eyes of the heart and not the head, we can experience the power and joy of the Holy Spirit encompassing the entire room. Did Mary turn to Elizabeth? Were their eyes filled with tears of joy? Did they embrace each other, knowingly? Did choirs of Angels sing praises to God, with this proclamation of Mary, Daughter of the Father, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and Mother of the Savior of the world?